“I touched clay in eighth grade, and I knew that was my medium immediately.
I have three sisters who are all teachers. My mother was a teacher. I was going to be a teacher. It was sort of like ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus’ – I didn’t feel like I was really good enough to go on and just be an artist. I don’t regret that now. I think at the time I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going for the lesser.’ But it ended up being the best thing for me because I really liked teaching.
When you’re teaching, you don’t have a real push to do your own artwork unless you make yourself do it. That’s what the Lilly grant did for me: It made me start working on my artwork every day and keeping a journal every day.
It’s a real journey. It all came together, what I wanted to do and what I was inspired by. I had never done any of this. I got a grant to go learn how to shoot pictures underwater. It all made sense because I’d been going on the Goshen High School Marine Biology Trip for years and years and years. Finally, I was having a chance to really show what it was about to the public.
I’m making a series of pieces on turtles. It’s all about the environment. I feel like that’s obviously the focus of my work. I take underwater photographs and then apply that to my work. Most of my work is very much inspired by turtles and the sea.
To have the Clay Artists Guild was perfect in so many ways. I could teach there if I wanted. I had my space. I found that I liked working in the market, and that was a really fun way to connect with the community. Since I’ve retired, I go five days a week, at least. Some people, when they retire, have a difficult time deciding what to do with their lives. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I love it.
To me, it’s a daily thing. You just have to keep working every day at it. When I started doing that, my work got better. You have to commit to it, every day or close to it, to grow.”