Mabel Birckhead DAmico (1909-1998), taught art for over five decades while concurrently developing a prolific body of artwork. Her approach to creative education was innovative and focused on teaching art as a process to enrich one s own life.
Mabel moved through various modes of expression using diverse materials like paint, glass, wood, lights, motors, and polyester resin, to name a few. Her studio reveals the breadth of her experimentation and the acuity of her eye. For an exhibition at the Islip Art Museum in 2004, curator Janet Goleas described Mabels studio: “And in every corner, from every vantage point, and on every conceivable surface, there stands, sits or hovers a D Amico creation, the likes of torsos slowly spinning on invisible turntables, bulbous sprinklings of flashing lights, bleached roots and wood, mosaic windows, mobiles and table tops, doll heads heaped in pyramids or aligned in rows, glass spheres of all sizes and cantilevered reeds, oars and buoys”.
Mabel impacted thousands of students during her life, encouraging them to explore new disciplines and look at everyday objects in new ways. She believed that“art should become for all young people, regardless of their ability, a form of expression which they will use naturally and unselfconsciously throughout their lives.” Parallel to a teaching career that influenced and impacted individuals like artists Donna Dennis and Donna Maria de Creeft, and curator and museum director Rexford Stead, Mabel developed artwork that she exhibited in a number of solo and group exhibitions, mainly from the 1960s through the 1990s.