Terry Pattison isn’t much for talking about herself, but her work speaks for her.
In recent years, she has gained recognition as a local art teacher and as the go-to for handmade costumes, set pieces and scenic design in youth and community theater.
She has been drawing and painting since kindergarten.
She says her daughter Halli’s passion for theater was the catalyst for her involvement. She has now been costuming for more than 20 years.
“I was first a parent volunteer on a show she was involved in,” she said. “My involvement grew, and it’s manifested into what it is today.”
It did not take long before it became a time-consuming hobby – helping groups in Edwardsville, Belleville, Highland, schools and COCA.
At O’Fallon Township High School, she is their theater program’s art director. She oversees the technical help for the fall play and the spring musical. It is a contract position.
She spent about 10 years teaching art at First Baptist Academy in O’Fallon. Then she helped the music teacher build a theater program and worked on their musicals.
However, she decided not to return this school year. Her husband, Scot, is a pilot with American Airlines. With his schedule, they decided it would be better if she stayed home.
The Pattisons have three children: Halli, a senior at Saint Louis University with a double major in theater and anthropology; Dylan, a senior at Triad High School; and Ryan, a sophomore at Triad. They live in St. Jacob.
Married 25 years, the Pattisons met in high school but did not start dating until college. They moved around with the U.S. Air Force, as he was a pilot, and eventually came to Scott Air Force Base. She is originally from the East Coast – grew up in Annapolis, Md. They have moved here twice -- 1992 and again in 2006. Scot is a reservist now.
When Pattison’s in charge of gathering costumes, she either makes them, repurposes ones she has, or uses them from different shows, she said.
She learned how to sew at an early age from her grandmother.
“When I visited, she set out needle and threat, and a big bag of scraps, and that kept me entertained. She eventually bought me a sewing machine, and I taught myself,” she said.
She quickly discovered that her skills were much in demand.
“Most people don’t know how to sew anymore. People kept asking, and I just kept making things,” she said. “Word of mouth just spread.”.
After ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ people called who were doing the show, and asked if they could borrow some of the things. Paul Pitts, who was directing musicals at Carriel Junior High School, asked to borrow some items.
“Everybody’s connected. It’s like ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.’ You find people and connect the dots,” she said.
She is one of the founders of the Goshen Theatre Project, now in its fifth year.
She met Liz Enloe at the Triad Middle School, when she helped with sets and costumes. They thought about putting together a cultural arts group because of all the school cuts in music, art and theatre.
The group has grown to include youngsters and adults from all over the area, including O’Fallon.
“We’re trying,” she said. “The shows are a lot of work.”
In 2016, she was won for Best Costume Design of a Musical for “Peter Pan” at Goshen and was nominated for Best Set Design by Arts For Life’s Best Performance Awards. The non-profit group has been honoring excellence in community theater since 1999. Her daughter, Halli, also nominated for Best Lead Actress in a Musical as Wendy, won for her choreography.
For Goshen’s spring youth musical, “Lion King Jr.,” she built everything from scratch.
They usually do two shows a year, in summer and around Christmastime, but this year, they expanded to include another musical. The large-scale “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” in August was presented at The Hettenhauser Center for the Arts at McKendree University. Chitty had 40 cast members. Lion King Jr. had about 46.
For “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” Pattison was co-director with Liz Enloe, and designed the set and costumes. The show had 14 scenes and 22 musical numbers.
What she didn’t make, she borrowed from her work for “The Music Man.”
“I have so much show stuff,” she said.
Currently, she is working on OTHS’s fall play, which will be performed Nov. 15-17. A large-cast comic farce, “If Today Is the Rest of My Life, Then I’m in Real Trouble” by James L. Seay has roles for 13 males, 18 females and two parts that could be male or female.
It’s about an advance photography class at a community college that is trapped in a mining ghost town by an avalanche. Help doesn’t seem to be on the way, and they have discovered gangsters are holding a secret summit too. Wackiness will ensue.
It’s quite a switch from last year’s event, “Sense and Sensibility,” which was a classic by Jane Austen and was set in Victorian England.
“I think the director was looking for something different. It’s almost slapstick,” Pattison said.
She works with the tech crew kids and is complimentary about the help she receives.
“I had a ton of help for last year’s spring musical ‘Shrek,’” she said.
The next Goshen Theatre Project is a mystery dinner theater planned for the holidays. Emily Klingensmith, who is on the board, has written a show using a theme like “Fantastic Beasts” and “Harry Potter.”
“It should be fun. I’m excited about it,” she said.
She’ll do whatever needs to be done.
Interestingly, Pattison didn’t start out as an art major. She studied at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., and the University of Hawaii, and majored in marine biology, and minored in illustration.
“I feel really blessed every day to work with art,” she said.
Q: Do you have words to live by?
“I can do all things through the Lord who strengthens me. Do everything to the best of your ability.”
Q: Whom do you most admire?
“My uncle and aunt, Rev. Ward and June Holland - they are selfless people who have truly lived for the Lord, have gone literally everywhere and lived life to its fullest.”
Q: If you could spend time with a famous person, past or present, whom would it be?
“One of the Master painters.... Michelangelo or Claude Monet”
Q: What is the last book that you read?
“I am not a book reader. I like to read scientific publications.”
Q: What do you do for fun and relaxation?
“Create something- sew, paint, draw.”
Q: What is the usual state of your desktop?
Q: What did you want to do career wise when you were growing up?
“Become and Aquatic Veterinarian”
Q: What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic?
“My creativity and I am always willing to help if it is within my power.”
Q: What irritates you most?
“Cracking knuckles and other body parts for no reason.”
Q: What type of music do you listen to?
“I am not set on one genre -- I surf depending upon what I am doing,”
Q: What do you like most about your job?
.”I like being able to take something ‘blank’ and turn it into something.
Q: If you were independently wealthy, what would you be doing?
“Traveling the world.”
Q: When they make a movie of your life, who would play you?
“I don’t like to be in the limelight, I am more of a backstage person... so probably an extra.”
Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?