My mother was very young when she birthed my brother, then me. She soothed her anxiety by keeping us in sight. A large back yard. A back yard with a grape arbor, with chickens, with sun-warmed cherry tomatoes and peach trees.

My mother always felt she was responsible for my wanderlust because my early years had been circumscribed by a back yard.

But I digress…

Juanita Tumelaire received her B.A. at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, majoring in art and English, and an M.S.Ed. from State University College of Buffalo, New York.

After her undergraduate degree, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines, teaching English as a Second Language and working as art editor of the Peace Corps magazine, Ang Boluntaryo. She then traveled overland through Asia, the Middle East and Europe, a highlight of which was bicycling the Angkor Wat temple circuit in Cambodia during the monsoon.

Upon returning to the U.S., she worked in advertising in Boston, before meeting, becoming besotted with, and marrying Ted Tumelaire.

After student teaching in Lackawanna, New York, she received New York State Teaching Certification and a Master’s Degree. She and her husband lived abroad for the next several years.

She taught English at Kabul University, Kabul, Afghanistan, taught English at Language House in Esfahan, Iran, performed the role of Joshua, the butler, in Anouilh’s Ring Around the Moon as well as Linus in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown as a member of the Esfahan Players. She was a founding member of the Private Isfahan Gourmet Society.

While living in Kathmandu, Nepal, she taught advanced English classes at USIS, was a member of the Himalayan Order of Gourmets, and completed several treks, Everest Base Camp being the most memorable. She and her husband returned by sea on the Stefan Batory, from Rotterdam to Montreal, playing bingo and shuffleboard en route.

Juanita taught, then became Dean of Students at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts. She studied printmaking, and became a founding member of Partners in Printmaking, a group of women exhibiting in the Boston area.

Juanita set up a studio and became a full-time artist after moving to Signal Mountain TN. She taught printmaking in residencies for the Association of Visual Arts (AVA), Arts Build of Chattanooga, the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Regional Kennedy Center Teaching Arts Program for a number of years before teaching printmaking at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is an exhibiting artist and President Emerita of AVA. She is currently the Printmaking Director for The Open Press, a non-profit printmaking, book arts and letterpress art center in Southside Chattanooga.

In addition to having work in the archive of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, she is a Hambidge Fellow, the recipient of individual artist grants, and has been awarded the N.A.W.A. Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation Medal of Honor in Printmaking in 2001 and 2005.

Individual artist grant awards from Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga for 2005-2006, and 2006-2007 allowed her to purchase a small letterpress and set up Impmaker Press. Building on workshops in Tibetan bookmaking and making wooden books, she is currently creating limited edition fine art books containing original stories and illustrations..

In related experience, Juanita participated in collaborations involving writing and acting in “Forget Hell!”, which was performed in Chattanooga,TN, Asheville, NC, and Lexington, KY., and has designed theatre sets for Barking Legs Theater.