I was recently asked why I teach community clay classes, as opposed to university level instruction. Well, one big reason is I don’t have the Master’s degree, so I actually can’t teach at universities. In the beginning, I thought I would go for the terminal degree for fine artists and get my MFA but after a few attempts in that direction, I finally made the choice to not pursue it. I realized that I really wanted to be my own boss, make my own schedule and share my clay experience with everyone, not just in an academic environment and I’m really happy with that choice. Over the past 15+ years, I’ve taught everyone from seniors to pre-schoolers how to make a pinch pot, roll a coil or add texture to a slab cup. I’ve worked in mobile classrooms in under-served communities and private classrooms in private schools. It’s been an amazing way to piece together an income for myself and I have learned that no matter what your background or experience level, everyone leaves clay class feeling pretty good about what they did.
As my own art career has launched forward, I’ve cut back on the number of classes that I offer at my studio but I know that no matter how busy the art world gets, I will always teach. Each week I welcome some of the most amazing and talented people into my studio space. I love that they are passionate about being creative and intrigued enough to try something new. What I hope that they take away from their time spent in my studio is an appreciation of what it takes to make something with your hands along with the confidence to try it, compassion for others creative ideas and a respect for the vulnerability of making something with your heart. Some of my younger students tell me that they are going to be artists when they grow up, which is sweet to hear but of course most of them will go on to do other things. So I’m not churning out the academic artists of the future here but what community clay classes create instead is art enthusiasts, supporters and collectors, and the world needs a lot of those kind of people!