Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thoughts on teaching

While I haven't had an abundance of time in the studio lately (this is why), one constant in my life as a potter has been teaching. I really love to teach and have done so in many capacities from after-school kids art classes, to adult clay classes, to elementary school art teacher, to teaching residencies, to teaching people how to build a house (scary, but true). Teaching always provides me with many beneficial challenges as well as introduces me to people I wouldn't have met or known under any other circumstances.

Some of my best ideas for my own work have come about as a result of teaching. Case in point: I teach a handbuilding class at Clayworks in Charlotte and have several students who have taken the class with me many many times. In order to keep up the interest for them (and me), I spend a lot of time thinking, experimenting and planning new forms and methods. Here's one such example: we made these lobed boxes in this past session. Soon I'm going to work on reforming this process a bit and start to make something of the sort for my own body of work. I liked this little owl knob too.
I have some exciting teaching opportunities coming up in the next few months. The Arts and Science Council here in Charlotte is hosting an "Artist as an Entrepreneur Institute" that will be held over 3 Saturdays and is geared toward artists thinking of themselves as small business owners. Many different "modules" (classes) are held covering topics such as how to market your work, incorporation, creating a brand, etc. I'm honored to have a chance to teach the module on selecting your distribution outlets- ie: where can you sell your work? It's been really beneficial for me to sit down and think of all the different places where people can purchase my work and which of these have the greatest rate of return. I think it's pretty easy to just think, "oh, it's just galleries and craft fairs," but, in reality, there are so many additional opportunities. Just thinking about some other options that are less traditional that others have tried have piqued my own interest. When I'm on the ball enough I'll try to do a longer posting of my research and presentation. What are some places you market and sell your work that are a little more creative?

Coming up in February (20-22), I'll be a presenter at the Potter's Council Focus on Function workshop held at Funke Fired Arts in Cincinnati, OH. I'm so honored to present here and am looking forward to meeting all the other presenting artists and participants. I'll be doing two 3 hour demos of my own work and there will be a hands on portion for the participants to make some texturing tools and stamps. This event will also be fun for my because I grew up in Cinci and my family all still live there, so it'll serve as a visit too (although, they all just want to see my little Guthrie!).

In March (27/28) I'll be doing a demo workshop at Sawtooth School for Visual Art in Winston-Salem. I'm really looking forward to this because I'll have lots of time to demo many of my pieces and will have the opportunity to do a slide show of my work and influences. There have been so many artists that have generously shared knowledge and techniques and I'm so excited to be part of that cycle of sharing to possibly help enhance an old idea or spark a new direction of work for someone else.

It has been a long-time goal of mine to do more workshop style teaching at art centers. I feel that I have some original methods to share and have plenty of embarrassingly funny, self-deprecating stories to tell.