I am an artist that has always been compassionate for the arts and how influential they can be to a community. I am originally from Northern Maine where I studied art at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. My love for glaze chemistry in college led to my full time job as a chemist for Continental Clay in Minneapolis Minnesota. I am fortunate because my employer allows me to take time off to teach Raku pottery workshops and Artist in Residency programs in the Mid-West.
Through my teaching I have been able to reach out and help many individuals and institutions strengthen their ceramic programs, which is difficult to do in today’s economic times. Although I have a full and busy schedule I take time out to deliver clay and materials to schools free of charge so they are able to use the money they would have spent for shipping and re-purpose it back to their students. Over the past four years I have brought professional artists to my local school for in-house workshops so the students can see how artists develop their craft in their local regions and countries. It is important to me that every place I teach is enriched while I am there. From learning about new programs, rebuilding kilns to helping educators and administrators find more creative ways to strengthen their programs and save money, it is my goal to help in any way I can. I designed and built a Community Pottery Studio in New Richmond, Wisconsin that is now similarly equipped to those found on college campuses.
Through my teaching I find equipment that is being disposed of by institutions and I refurbish it and donate it back to those who need it. I hate to see kilns or bricks in a landfill so I salvage them and give them to those who need and can use them. I left two Raku kilns at Renville County West High School upon completing an Artist in Residency so the teachers could continue to fire and teach their students about this special firing technique. I have also built and left kilns for schools so the teachers could continue to have a ceramics program. By helping others I am helping myself be more in tune with my community and the gratitude of knowing I can make a difference is what keeps me going.
I feel that you get out of your community by what you put into it. It is a philosophy that was instilled into be by my parents and I find that the gratification of helping others is a gift like no other. I have helped out with the local Empty Bowls fundraiser for the local food shelf for the past seven years. My help in securing the donations of clay from my company and the Community Building Day have helped raise more than $500,000 in food for local people in need.
Potters Without Kilns is the next phase for the Community Pottery Studio and my desire to help. Recent college graduates are facing such insurmountable debt and low paying jobs that it is going to take them a lifetime to acquire the equipment and materials I am currently getting for the programs I am helping to succeed. If we do not reach out and lend a hand we are going to loose a lot of talented people who can make a difference in someone’s life. I cannot wait by and see these artist fail due to financial concerns. Someone helped me by supporting me when no one else would and I have never forgotten that act of kindness. Now I teach others to do the same.