Posted by Cindy Bracker, Communications Director
Where do you currently live/work?
What do you like most about your job? OR What do you like most about where you live?
Which job? I have When I was executive director of Baltimore Clayworks what I liked most was putting together partnerships that put clay in the hands of individuals who had no opportunity to experience ceramics. I loved to see the magic happen. Now that I am solely a teacher at Clayworks and other places, I enjoy that same kind of connection that develops creativity and focus among our students. I also do some contractual and volunteer fundraising for small social service non-profits. I love seeing the excitement and capacity grow as the resources increase.
Where did you grow up?
Bluefield, West Virginia (highest city east of Denver; cold as a stone every month but August)
What was your childhood nickname?
Dee. It stuck and is the name my family calls me.
How did you first find out about NCECA?
I attended Super Mud with a group of Baltimore glass blowers. I was the only clay person.
Tell me a story about your first conference (including city and/or year)
Same as above; it was at Penn State. I was piled into a motel room with people I didn’t know…BUT I saw Curt Hoard make and decorate those fabulous huge cylinders and watched Betty Woodman make those pillow pots. I was blown away. No turning back.
What’s your favorite color?
Blue – really a deep blue sometimes called cadet blue or cerulean …Ooo but what about those buttery yellows/
What or who inspired you to get involved more deeply in the organization, and what was your “entry point” to the board.
My entry point to the board was serving as liaison, with Leigh Taylor Mickelson, as on-site for NCECA 2005 in Baltimore. I truly wanted the conference so badly to raise the profile for ceramics in our city, and lobbied board members to bring Baltimore to their attention. (how I did that is another story). Mission accomplished. In my present role, Patsy Cox dragged me kicking and screaming into the president-elect “contest”. I’d do anything for that woman.
Describe your position with NCECA
I am NCECA’s current president. In this position, I preside over meetings, of course, but I also get to work closely with Josh and the EC on decisions and policies that affect not only the well-being of NCECA presently, but also on guiding principles that will assist the organization in the future.
What’s your favourite thing about being on the board?
I have entrée to so many very smart, savvy people – co-board members, Josh and the staff, volunteers, donors, our members – whose experiences in the field give shape, texture and perspective to the organization. This board is especially collegial, respectful of divergent opinions and willing to listen and to work toward consensus. It is also empathetic; in my four-year period, I have experienced several life-altering personal setbacks, and board members and Josh have shouldered my responsibilities. I have eternal gratitude to them.
What’s your favorite part of your specific position?
This is answered above. I could say that I get to broker the speakers list during meetings.
Who are some of your mentors, and how have they shaped you as a person/artist? (both in and out of the organization/field)
My first ceramics teacher, Lois Long, adjunct at U. of Md. College Park and a former employee at Amaco, required documented gallery visits and taught me to love raw materials. A fabulous mentor was John K. Smith, longtime board chair at Baltimore Clayworks who, by example, instructed me about the value of strategic thinking. Patsy Cox is also a mentor; she sets the bar on the board so high that I constantly aspire to reach it.
Tell me about your work as an artist.
My work is pretty simple. First, I love to draw, and I enjoy painting with watercolors; I have a little studio set up for this in my bedroom. In clay, I make two kinds of work, and everything starts on the wheel and is altered. Porcelain gives me functional pots that make a simple meal special – teapots, cups, bowls, vases. I decorate the greenware with slips and commercial underglazes, brushed and trailed, sgraffitoed through, and back onto bisque with pencils. I use a transparent glaze and fire to cone 10 in a gas kiln. The red earthenware is thrown as very wide, bottomless cylinders. Cut through vertically, they become slabs that I use to build shaped and chambered planters for succulents, fired to cone 1. (photos attached)
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
The darkest chocolate that I can find.
If you were a glaze, which one would you be and why?
I would be Shaner Clear. Why? It has stood the test of time. It is transparent, and everything it covers is visible. It is tough and resilient, yet very forgiving
What are a few of your hobbies?
NCECA ☺. Watercolor painting. Flower gardening – no good with vegetables. Reading Grandchildren. Considering each day as a gift, every morning.