Even before enrolling at Rhode Island College, Jennifer Cahoon knew that she wanted to be in Enrico “Henry” Pinardi’s class. Her East Providence High School art teacher recommended she attend RIC and take courses with the renowned art professor.
Pinardi lived up to his acclaim, according to Cahoon, who earned a B.F.A. in art education, with a concentration in sculpture in 1995. From the first class, he impressed. “He used humor to break the ice with students and make them comfortable. It was a lesson I still use today in my own teaching,” she says.
After class Cahoon and her classmate would attend gatherings at Pinardi’s house, recalls Cahoon. Even outside of class, Pinardi would dispense his professional advice and knowledge. “He never stopped teaching, even in social environments,” she says.
It was because of Pinardi that she ended up travelling to Italy to enrich her education. He repeatedly recommended that she take art courses abroad. His advice for finding this potentially life changing opportunity was to visit the local bookstore. “He told me to pick up a sculpture magazine. I found a few classes in Pietrasanta, Italy,” Cahoon says.
At that point, she took a leap of faith, and spent several months in Italy learning sculptural techniques from Cesare Riva, a well-known sculptor from Milan. She also spent more than 120 hours creating her own works.
Today, as owner of the HeArtSpot Art Center and Gallery in East Providence, Cahoon is following in Pinardi’s footsteps, teaching art to students of all ages and nurturing their creativity. In her own art, she has moved on from sculpture to acrylic paintings of pop-culture icons.
“I once taught a class where my youngest student was six and my oldest student 96,” she says. “I teach them that art isn’t magic. Everyone can do it and enjoy it.”
“Every creator has a voice of insecurity in their head,” she adds. “Henry became the voice in my head that was louder than the insecurity. He believed in me and what my potential was before I knew it.”
Cahoon’s art in her home studio