Nan Rothwell: From the pottery down the gravel road to ... September 3, 2015 09:57
From the pottery down the gravel road to a national network:
Nellysford being somewhat isolated, Nan credits the emergence of the Internet with expanding her artistic influence. Starting in the mid-1990s she increased her involvement with various national groups such as the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) and won election to the Potters Council Board. Her board membership led to participation at national and regional conferences, in turn sparking an ambition to do more teaching, especially workshops where she feels the learning flows two ways.
Her own introduction to clay certainly informs her approach to teaching: Nan loves sharing what she’s learned and encouraging new potters. As she says so well, “I had some wonderful teachers when I was first learning to pot, and teaching allows me to pass the favor on.” She honors especially Rosemary Zorza, Mick Casson, and Walter Keller.
Although she’s closed her own studio & school in Nellysford, she now teaches classes and specialized workshops at City Clay in Charlottesville. This fall she will teach a beginners and a multi-level wheel class, both on Tuesdays. In addition, she continues to teach workshops at the John C. Campbell Folk School, Shenandoah Potters School and at the Bay School in Matthews, VA. She’s also accessible through her instructional videos, which focus on throwing as well as glazing and decorating.
On a different level, she also originated “Clay Camp,” an occasional gathering of fellow potters to exchange ideas and techniques, share good food, and just enjoy the rich exchange among artists. Regular participants include well known Central Virginia potters Kevin Crowe, Nancy Ross, Becky Garrity, Elizabeth Krome, and most recently Randy Bill. The first camp, a multi-day potting event, was with Jim Lane. Nan traces some of her techniques to these Clay Camp experiences. And, of course, the bonds of friendship endure.
Last spring’s camp inspired Nan to put out a teapot challenge to a small group of colleagues and students at City Clay: looking for a different approach to lid-making on altered teapots, she challenged the group members to create a teapot a week for the gathering. Critiques were insightful and encouraging. This challenge now completed, City Clay members are already talking about organizing another informal exchange along the same lines.
The very immediate future is her upcoming exhibit opening Sept. 8 at City Clay with reception and artist’s talk on Friday, Sept. 11. It will features works just coming out of her stoneware kiln.
As a Juried Artisan and member of the Virginia Artisan Trail Network, Nan will participate in the Artisans Studio Tour the weekend of November 7 and 8, this year sharing space at City Clay with Randy Bill. As already noted, she continues to teach and inspire new students.
Reflecting on the past year when she moved to Charlottesville and left behind her solo studio, she recalls that she briefly contemplated giving up pottery after almost 50 years. Barely settled in Charlottesville though, she was seeking studio space. Fortunately, she’s found a home at City Clay.
What else lies ahead? Come to her opening reception and talk on Friday, Sept. 11 to find out.