Betti Pettanati-Longinotti is a beloved and well-known local glass artist and painter with an international reputation. For the past eight years, she has taught stained glass and oil painting part-time at Forsyth Tech.
“I enjoy teaching and having the opportunity to teach something I love,” says Betti. “I like seeing the skill level of students improve over time. I’m fed by seeing their sense of accomplishment.”
She earned her BFA from the Maryland Institute, College of Art, a MA from the University of Arts/Philadelphia and her MFA through the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University. In 2013, she retired from the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System after serving more than 30 years as an art educator.
She recently led the public installation of a ceramic-based tactile wall for Industries for the Blind (IFB) in Winston-Salem, one of Forsyth Tech’s corporate training clients. Located on the playground at Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse, the wall is designed for the youth who participate in IFB’s after-school and summer programs.
The wall measures 54 by 9 feet and contains handmade ceramic tile, glass tesserae and found objectives. Called the Pfefferkorn Playground, it was commissioned by local philanthropist, Gordon Pfefferkorn.
“When first approached about this project, I was asked to incorporate found objects or representations of them, including an eye chart, the Winston-Salem skyline, a bowling ball and the iconic Salem Coffee Pot,” Betti explains. “I took inspiration for this project from Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, created by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar.”
Betti oversaw the creation and installation of the Pfefferkorn Playground with her artists’ team over a six-month period, firing the kiln six days a week during fabrication.
Critical to completion of this project on schedule was the volunteer support she received from participants in the Student Enrichment Experience (SEE) program (supported by a Brighter Path Foundation), children of the Brookstown Summer Camp, BB&T and IFB employees, as well as some of her Forsyth Tech art students. Even the Star Catchers, a group of Forsyth Tech Compensatory Education students from Stokes County, helped out.
This community collaboration epitomizes the spirit of a quote from Helen Keller that Betti included in Braille on the Pfefferkorn Playground wall that reads, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”