Community Building / Giving Back / Identity / Teacher Part 1

Teaching at  Haystack Mountain School of Crafts , ME, Metals Studio, 2015

Teaching at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, ME, Metals Studio, 2015

In my daily life, as my job, I’m not a jewelry teacher.

I don’t have a consistent classroom with students that I show up in front of with content to share. However, “teacher” does come up often as a word used by others to describe me, and frequently enough I do say that I love to teach — it feels like a core part of my identity. There is much to say about this. Today I’ll only touch the tip of the iceberg…

I often spend my daily life solo, in my studio working out ideas and running a tiny business. One of the beauties of being the pilot is that the rhythms of each year have some variation.

Some years teaching is on my calendar. 

For me, teaching is about giving back and participating in community building. It’s a humbling, vulnerable, and fulfilling endeavor. It’s a time when I get to translate my experiences and skills to others, young and old.

Early on, after graduating from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), it was a teacher who so confidently responded to a student’s question with the words “I don’t know” that set my teaching spirit free. She went on to state that there were various resources they could explore together to come up with some answers. From that moment forward something within me had shifted. I was 23 years old and at Penland School of Crafts; my teacher was Marjorie Simon. 

At that moment, I felt the desire to share what I new with others. I felt resolved with the fact that I wouldn’t always know the answer, no matter how old I was or how many experiences I had had. 

A year and a half later, I was back at Penland with my first class of my own. (See photo below.) Over the years I’ve been back many times, in various studios and roles. 

Penland School of Crafts , NC, outside Upper Metals. 2005

Penland School of Crafts, NC, outside Upper Metals. 2005

Community building has been imperative to my sustained interest and success in the contemporary art jewelry field. Both Penland and RISD, with their incredible resources, values and people involved, have been part of my professional web. My success cannot be separated from them, it’s intimately intertwined.

I’m currently thinking about this a lot as I look towards 2019, which is fast approaching. My year is starting off with teaching! It’s the very first professional thing on my calendar. 

For the first time, I’ll be back at my alma mater, RISD, in front of students January 7th. It’ll be a short, intensive, five week term for students of all majors and years. It’s called Wintersession. Later in the year I’ll be back at Penland to teach Session 5: July 21-August 6.

Both courses will have to do with patterns, a word with multiple meanings and interpretations. A word that greatly informs my creative practice. A word that is a wonderful jumping off point and guide for experimentation and discovery. (More about that in the future.)

But for the moment, what’s on the horizon for your you in 2019? Is ‘teacher’ part of your identity? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear!