Involved in art all her life, Arna Means was born and raised the San Francisco Bay Area, attended public schools in Oakland, and graduated from San Francisco State University where she received her degree in Art and her secondary teaching credential. She also attended art classes at the University of Mexico.
After graduation, she taught art and other subjects in schools throughout Northern California, interspersing her teaching career with time out to raise a family and pursue her love of art making.
Her husband, also an artist, and she had a gallery and studio in Monterey on Cannery Row in the sixties in the same spot that the Monterey Aquarium stands today. There, she met with and exchanged ideas with other artists. She studied painting with Alex Gonsalves and learned the art of etching at the Carmel Art Center on a converted letterset press.
Always having loved making pen and ink drawings, the fine lines in the printed plates and the reflective quality and detail of the print, captivated her, leading her to study etching further at San Francisco Graphics Arts Studio and California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and more recently at Crown Point Press in SF.
While she works in several media, including painting, figure drawing, painting from nature, pastel, figure drawings and mixed media pieces, printmaking has been her most intense and prolific discipline, especially etching or intaglio. She is continually experimenting with, the intaglio print. She loves the media for its history and its reproductive quality. It is excitingto make several images from one plate with a low tech, creative hands-on involvement.
In her words, “The involvement in creating an etching from it's earliest inception through the various stages required, to the final stages of wiping the ink on the plate and pulling the first print is an exciting journey for me.” As a result, she has many prints and loves to share them. Over the years, she has shown her work in many exhibits in various locales throughout the United States. She has won several awards.
A former teacher, she has been retired from full time teaching for several years and has been able to pursue her love of art on a daily basis. However, she still teaches art once a week in a one-room schoolhouse on a local reservation, which brings her total span of teaching to over 50 years.
Her philosophy: "To me, art reflects the process of a struggle toward resolution. As an expression of that struggle, a work of art can be seen on many levels."