Saturday, August 25, 2012

Busy Summer

Lilly Endowment This has been one crazy, wonderful, and challenging summer for me! In February I found out that I had won a Lilly Endowment for teacher creativity renewal. The endowment gave me the opportunity to first travel to the Smoky Mountains of Cherokee, NC, where some of my ancestry originated from. I spent a week staying in a cabin up in the mountains and traveling to various sites and meeting area potters. My main focus was to learn as much as possible about the Cherokee pit fired pottery methods. After returning home my family and I dug a fire pit so that I could begin experimenting with my own pit fire pottery. I also plan to teach pit firing to my students. But it is now the end of August, and we have been under a no burn order since June, so I have not been able to even try out the fire pit. I am hoping that we will have enough rain by October but one never knows.
In July, the second leg of my endowment journey took me to a fabulous arts and crafts school called Penland. The school is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and is a tiny community unto itself. I took a two week course on figurative/narrative clay sculpture with an excellent instructor named Arthur Gonzalez. During the two week course I constructed three life-size busts, three maquettes, tiny figures, and pendents. Arthur took the class to the studios of two ceramic sculptors, the Blue Spiral gallery and the art museum in Ashville. My experience had a "monkey wrench" tossed into it though, when one week into the course, I fell going up some slate stone steps. The impact left me with a 1/2 inch deep cut and tissue damage to my right knee and bruising on my left elbow. The accident made for a very difficult second week, but the people were so kind and caring and helpful that I was deeply moved and it gave me the tenacity to fight through the pain to finish the course.
Once I returned home, I had three weeks before school started back. Needless to say, those weeks were spent going to the doctor, getting x-rays, and focusing on recovery. It has been 6 weeks since my injury and I am still not properly healed, but I am told that "these things take time". My experiences have taught me a lot though. I am no longer afraid to go on a long trip by myself to a strange place. I have recognized my pessimism toward change and realize that without change life becomes stagnant. I also see that being socially adept takes work on my part and I must fight my tendency to be a recluse in social situations. The experiences that I have been blessed with due to this grant cover a multitude of areas and will affect the rest my life. I am very grateful to have been given such opportunity. Thank you Lilly Endowment Inc.!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on the endowment! Well deserved!
    :-) ~ Deb