Ahita Keshmirian placed bits of broken yet colorful glass into a pendant. Outside, beyond the natural grass on the top deck of Celebrity Cruise Lines' Silhouette, the mosaic-decorated churches of Ravenna, Italy, were visible.
Aboard ship, master artist Keshmirian teaches passengers a variety of techniques from painting to beading, using ports of call as inspiration. This particular class created mosaic pendants. The venue, dubbed The Art Studio, sits atop The Lawn Club, where grass for golfing and other activities sprouts.
"It was very cool to see how inspiration can introduce new skills to one in a matter of hours, " Keshmirian said via email.
Keshmirian works for Celebrity during four-month seasonal intervals. The rest of the year she teaches at ArtCenter/South Florida, a nonprofit art center on Miami Beach's Lincoln Road. Celebrity began a partnership in May 2011 after Ivonne Paris, Celebrity's marketing manager, took a class and pitched ArtCenter at a meeting. Celebrity officials had been discussing well-known art institutes to pair with The Art Studio aboard the Silhouette for the ship's launch that July, but the company had a hard time finding one that would be a good fit.
"She [Paris] actually brought some of the jewelry pieces she created from the classes, " said Dominique Bonavita, Celebrity's director of product development. "It was local, and we felt really good about that."
Celebrity hires two artists, a master and an apprentice, who alternate every four months - drawing from a pool of ArtCenter affiliated artists, said the center's education director, Tammy Key.
Keshmirian has been with ArtCenter since 2009. She remembers people telling her that she was going to be a "starving artist, " but she proceeded with her dream. While teaching on board, she often develops what she calls an "art connection" despite the short interaction time with passengers aboard the roughly two-week cruises.
"I have not seen the same thing created twice, " she said. "I have met people from all over the world. And when they come to take a class we instantly have a connection, which I find so beautiful and sometimes very rare."
Celebrity's newest ship, the 126,000-ton Reflection, made its U.S. debut shipping out from PortMiami on Dec. 5, 2012. Beyond The Art Studio, the ship features luxury suites, a Lawn Club Grill and Wi-Fi equipped cabanas.
Key said the classes are becoming so popular that some cruisers have to be turned away. However, sometimes the two interrelate. A cruiser who attended a jewelry class aboard the Silhouette now regularly attends ArtCenter classes in Miami.
"Its an enhancement to [Celebrity's] entertainment program, " she said.