A Love Letter to ‘No’

A Love Letter to ‘No’

During my second year of teaching at a small-town high school in New Jersey, I met Shannon.  She came to my classroom by way of a few other art courses, and at first we were a little cautious of each other.  She was clearly talented in ceramics and meticulous about her craftsmanship – but we … Continue reading

Habits and Journeys

Habits and Journeys

This summer took me me from seven challenging weeks in Michigan through a few troubling days in Pennsylvania to an August perch on an island in Maine. Here I’m a student, trying to figure out whether I am still supposed to make things.  I have been living out a backpack for nearly three months. It … Continue reading

No Selfie with the President

No Selfie with the President

This past weekend, a school colleague challenged me to ‘get a selfie with the president.’ As I watched President Obama leave the State Room where he had just spent the last hour talking with about a hundred of us about education, I heard one young woman in the front row ask him for a selfie. … Continue reading

Tread Lightly

Tread Lightly

In the spring of 1993, I received a letter that changed my life. I’d been accepted into the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts – a 5-week summer program for the visual and performing arts.  Over 2,000 high school sophomores and juniors applied, and 200 were selected after portfolio reviews, interviews, and onsite auditions. For … Continue reading

On background and gratitude

On background and gratitude

It is May.  The seniors are finished with regular classes, but still wander in and out of the studio. The art show is finished and slowly disassembling itself.  I’m somewhere between a sigh of relief and the anxiety of what’s next. For the last week or so, a student who graduated last year has been … Continue reading

Potception

Potception

When I scanned my email yesterday at lunchtime, there was an announcement from the amazing potter Ayumi Horie about a fundraising campaign that she and a few other potters had launched to help Christa Assad – another ceramic artist who is a perennial student favorite, and who has inspired several sets of student work.  Assad recently broke … Continue reading

Te Adoro, Newness

Te Adoro, Newness

It’s early in a new semester, and my Ceramics I students are beginning to throw on the potter’s wheel. Fumbling hands dry out with friction, bodies rock back and forth with the pressure of two pounds of spinning clay.  In the first couple of days, a student or two manages to center with beginner’s luck, … Continue reading

Storytime, Redux

Storytime, Redux

This is a revision of an earlier post, in response to a prompt on the Haystack scholarship application: “Why do you want to take the workshop/s you have selected?”  My response space was 1000 characters; this is 1000 words. Some days in studio, I announce to my students that it’s ‘storytime’ – and we tell … Continue reading

2013 Highlights, Part 3: Risktaking

2013 Highlights, Part 3: Risktaking

One Friday during this past April, a group of my upper-level Ceramics students and I took boxes full of hand-made mugs to a local grocery store, set up tables outside the store, and tried to give away the mugs for a few hours. It wasn’t as easy as you’d think.  But then – the best … Continue reading

2013 Highlights, Part 2: Responsibility

2013 Highlights, Part 2: Responsibility

Seeing all the people there staring in awe at all the hand-made bowls was incredible. Although many had heard about or attended the event, they were all still so amazed at how the community had helped to create all these bowls. It hit me that the event hasn’t stopped. We should always be using our talents for … Continue reading

2013 Highlights, Part 1: Presenting

2013 Highlights, Part 1: Presenting

I often get low around the new year.  Perhaps, like every media outlet in the world, I spend too much time looking back and not enough time looking forward.  When I look back on a year, I tend to focus on missed opportunities, mistakes, not-quite-good-enough moments.    It’s a glass-half-empty approach that isn’t consistent with … Continue reading