“One of the things I try to focus on is functional art that can be used every day. I’m not particularly big on things that need to sit on a shelf. I think that if you are using it in your hand, or particularly using it when guests come over and see it for the first time, that having those reactions—whether positive or negative or intuitive or whatever adjective you want to put in there—of someone holding a cup, a bowl, whatever it may be, for the first time, there’s almost always a reaction when something’s handmade. And I want to be kind of the light of the fire to start that conversation. I hope that’s what my work provides.
I took my first ceramics course when I was 15 at Bethany Christian Schools. Instantly fell in love, and I just couldn’t get enough of it. One day I took a box of my stuff from Ceramics 1, and I went to Dick Lehman’s studio and put it on a shelf and said, ‘Could you tell me about this? Tell me what you like, tell me what you don’t like.’ I ended up working for Dick for three years, and he’s ended up being one of my closest mentors, and friends—a real cornerstone of my life. A year ago, we bought a pottery studio here in town. We purchased Marvin Bartel’s house and his studio, and I started producing kind of in earnest in January. The art education side of things that I’ve received in Goshen—from Eric Kaufman, Merrill Krabill, Dick Lehman, Marvin Bartel—these people who are not just artists but who have a place in the community, has impacted me so much.
Four years ago, my wife and I moved to Ohio to a great small community. But there was just this desire in our heart for more. It turned out that coming back to Goshen was what that was. It was the arts, it was the diversity. This is a dream that I’ve had in my heart for a long time. It feels like Goshen is one of those places where you can be an artist and not feel like you need to work three other jobs. There is at least a chance here that you can have a family, be an artist, and not have to sacrifice one of the two.
I had five shows planned for the summer, all of which have been canceled except for Arts on the Millrace, which is now online. There’s been this feeling of, ‘I’m 32. I kind of started this dream when I was 15. I’m going to do this this year. This is going to be the year.’ And then all of this has happened with COVID-19, and thankfully there’s been plenty of other opportunities. But in terms of the actual pursuit of selling my work, it’s just been non-existent this year. So I am particularly thankful for Arts on the Millrace, thankful for our community, all of those people I mentioned before who have just kind of said, ‘Stay after it. It’s going to be OK.’”