Saturday in the Studio
The Jansen Art Center proudly introduces, Saturday in the Studio, blog posts brought to you by our staff and fellow artists. This week Jesse Rasmussen, ceramic studio instructor and friend, takes over and introduces us to Barb Keily!
Conversations in Clay by Jesse Rasmussen
As an instructor, one of the greatest joys of teaching is seeing students succeed in their artistic efforts. It’s very exciting to see someone have a “light bulb” moment or to take an idea and really run with it. With clay, the learning process is a lifetime endeavor and within an academic setting the amount of time spent with a student is only three to four years in most cases. The community setting at the J offers a different experience for both students and teachers alike.
I’ve been fortunate to teach at the J for the last 8 years and in this setting I’m able to see the growth of a student from the very beginning to that of an accomplished artist. It is a far longer interaction with a student than most instructors get and I’m grateful for that fulfilling experience.
Sometimes it’s nice to sit back and reflect on life’s journeys, and I decided it was time to interview one of my most long standing students, Barb Keily, to see things from her perspective.
Barb’s ceramic work covers both functional and sculptural designs from simple bowls and trays to more complex sculptural narratives. Her inventive approach leaves us all guessing what she will come up with next. Here’s what she had to say:
How long have you been doing clay work?
I’ve been working in clay for six years now. I think in the last six years I’ve only missed two class sessions at the J.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I get inspired from the whimsical.
Do you have a favorite moment working in clay?
Every time the kiln gets opened is a favorite moment. It’s like Christmas and with the 6 week classes, I get Christmas every 6 weeks.
You’ve done a number of series over the years, can you tell us about them and do you find that working in a series helps to develop your work?
I’ve done sea life, gnomes, functional ware, and now bottles. Working in a series allows me to find ways to improve on the work as I go. Things like making it lighter, exploring texture, and finding inspiration from people around you all help to develop a series. It’s a learning experience every time you do it and the more you work on it, the better you become. If I were in clay for 20 years, I would still consider myself a student because there is just so much to know and learn.
What do you find most challenging about working with clay?
Tackling a new series is one of the hardest things because it’s something new and you have to push yourself. It’s hard to start a new series, and when I’m stuck, I go back to an old series that I’m familiar with. Doing that gives my mind a chance to rest and gain confidence for the next series. Your mind has to have a little break sometimes.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think the J is fantastic! It’s like having a second family. You get to know a lot about people’s personal lives because that’s what we’re here for, the camaraderie. It amazes me how generous people are in sharing their knowledge of clay. Everyone is always willing to help out.
It’s been an honor having Barb as a student over the years and watching her grow as an artist. If you want to learn more about clay and meet like-minded creative people, we have ongoing classes that run every six weeks offering a wide variety of techniques for all skill levels.
Due to the concerns around COVID-19, we are temporarily closed. We will reopen when it’s safe to do so, taking our cue from the government, health department & CDC.
Purchasing artwork is a great way to support the Arts and the J right now. All exhibited work for sale can be purchased and picked up curbside! To schedule payment, just email [email protected]