An artist. Something I never dreamed of calling myself before I came to Chewonki. From “chatting” too much in elementary school while painting with watercolors, to barely scraping by in my ceramics course back at my sending school, I have always turned my attention away from paints, pencils, and clay.
However, upon arriving at Chewonki, there was a collective enthusiasm among the forty-three excited yet nervous juniors to take advantage of all the unique opportunities Maine Coast Semester had to offer. Whether it was volunteering on the farm, hiking to the points, knitting in the Wallace, or playing music in the Flintstones, the options seemed endless, so I decided to give the pottery wheel another chance. After touring the room with our art teacher Sue and learning the necessities of cleaning and safety when using the wheel, a couple other juniors and I were free to use the ceramics room anytime.
Eventually, I found myself at the pottery wheel, and with a little bit of prior knowledge and the instructional sheets in the room, I went for it. I started by wedging the clay to remove the air pockets, then I literally threw the clay smack in the middle of the wheel and began the process of centering to make sure the final product was uniform. With no concept of time or the amount of clay that was beginning to cake my hands and forearms, I tried my best to make a cup. The result: a barely legible brown ball of clay. Nevertheless, I tried again repeating a similar process, adjusting when I needed to, but essentially enjoying my time at the wheel. An hour or two later, there was no finished product to present except my clay covered pants, (having forgotten to wear an apron), and messy hands. However, there was an irreplaceable sense of triumph I felt after leaving the ceramics room, knowing that I had actually enjoyed an activity that I had avoided prior to Chewonki. Not only was I enthralled to find an artistic hobby that I enjoyed, but I genuinely enjoyed the process on the pottery wheel and wasn’t hyper-focused on the final product or a deadline.
About six weeks into the Spring Semester (and countless trips to the pottery wheel), I have made many memories in the ceramics room, whether it’s teaching or learning from other students, or conversing with others while they hang out and listen to music. Even alone, throwing can help me feel grounded and be more mindful of the task in front of me. Despite the many hours spent in the ceramics room, there is a limited amount of actual finished products I have made. But more than anything, this is a reminder to keep my hands working, refine my skills, and most importantly – to just enjoy the journey.
Grace, Concord-Carlisle High School, Carlisle, MA