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Alumna Linda Shiffler has a studio in the back room of an artists’ co-op in Jonesville. Josephine von Dohlen | Col­legian

One summer in the 1970s, while driving home from dis­cussing art theory in a water­color class, alumna Linda Shiffler noticed things didn’t look the same. 

“I saw things in a com­pletely dif­ferent light,” she said. “That a tree isn’t black, or it isn’t grey, or it isn’t brown, it’s a mixture of many colors. And with that type of thing, I began to look at every­thing a little more closely.”

Since then, Shiffler ’70 has turned her passion for art into a career ranging from pottery to paper-making. 

“As a kid, I was fas­ci­nated by any­thing with a handle and a lid,” Shiffler said. 

This fas­ci­nation has helped mold her pottery from a variety of small pitchers and lidded jars, to funeral urns, which she said she has made for some family members. 

Shiffler has her own space in a back room of Studio 49, an artist’s co-op in Jonesville, Michigan. There, she creates her own pottery, which is on display in the gallery. 

Her inspi­ration for her art goes all the way back to her childhood. 

“I grew up on a farm,” she said. “My father and mother were both in tune with nature.”

Her family back­ground also instilled in her a strong respect for wood, nature, and the art she saw around her.

“I think cre­ation is an amazing thing,” Shiffler said. “There are so many things that we can see and appre­ciate.”

She said she realized her father’s respect for nature when in the middle of a huge field, he farmed around “one, beau­tiful, perfect, round oak tree.” 

“And he just said, ‘Sure I could chop it down, but any­thing this beau­tiful deserves to survive,’” Shiffler said. 

Nature per­meates much of Shiffler’s work, from her pottery to the mosaic of trees she recently com­pleted with another artist, which is now in the third level of the Hillsdale Hos­pital. 

As a student at Hillsdale College, Shiffler had a friend who noticed her work and encouraged her to adopt an art minor after seeing her draw so often. Shiffler said she par­tic­u­larly enjoyed art history, finding it fas­ci­nating with the help of pro­fessors who were both helpful and dear to her. 

“I was not a stellar student because I didn’t really know how to study when I went to college,” Shiffler said. “But I’ve always been proud to say I’m a Hillsdale graduate.” 

Shortly after Shiffler’s grad­u­ation in 1970, she signed up to take water­color classes with Pro­fessor Sam Knecht. 

“I recall Linda well,” Knecht said in an email. “She was and remains a most enthu­si­astic person whose good cheer is poured into her life and artwork. She per­formed well in the water­color classes she took with me in the ’70s.” 

Shiffler’s par­tic­i­pation in Hillsdale College’s Art Department didn’t end with the water­color classes she took with Knecht almost fifty years ago. Knecht said in the early 2000s Shiffler attended Friday life drawing ses­sions. 

“Her abil­ities and interest in drawing well have always endeared her to me,” Knecht said. “Linda is always quick with a good story and sense of humor.”

Alisha Conklin was an art student of Shiffler’s when Conklin was in high school at Camden-Frontier High School in Camden, Michigan. 

“She was always an inspi­ration to me because of how much she cares about both people and art,” Conklin said.

Conklin and Shiffler are both members of the Gallery 49 Artists’ Co-op, where Conklin dis­plays her pho­tog­raphy. Conklin said the two still see each other often in the gallery, where she comes to watch Shiffler work in her pottery studio. 

“She’s a talker,” Conklin said. “Well, we both are.”

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    Great story, she had an Epiphany moment which changed her life. As Archimedes said, ‘Eureka!’