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Art is medicine for the soul, says visiting artist

Artist Rosa Leff embodies the energy of artistic expression in every aspect of her being. From her wide smile to her hot pink locks, her enthusiasm for the art of paper cutting is clear.

pg11aBased in Guaynobo, Puerto Rico, Leff and her husband departed the United States at the outset of the pandemic after leaving her eight-year career as a kindergarten teacher. A native of Philadelphia, she loved the action and grittiness of city life which deeply influences her work and identity as an urban folk artist. 

But that wasn’t always the case. Leff, who is of Puerto Rican descent, grew up in a family that inspired her love of form, craft and artistic mastery. From family trips to local museums and a grandmother who made her living as an oil painter, Leff learned from a young age to appreciate the arts. However, she didn’t know that she would later become a full-time artist until several years after she earned her master’s degree in Elementary Education.

“I came to paper cutting accidentally,” she says, describing the art form as meditative and therapeutic—a way to decompress after a long day in the classroom.  Then, while earning her degree, she was assigned to create a children’s book, which she illustrated with her paper cuttings. 

All of her work is created with single sheets of artist-quality paper such as Canson Mi Teintes, which she methodically cuts away to create her detailed cityscapes.  “I don’t glue anything down like you would in collage,” she says.

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