Arts Center Ceramics Instructor Finds Inspiration in Natural Materials

Grounded in the Earth:

By KATE SNYDER

Community Arts Center

Lexington Artist Stacey Chinn is joining the Community Arts Center instructor lineup this fall, bringing several new classes inspired by the beauty of the natural world. Chinn operates a gallery and studio — MADEKY — in the Distillery District of Lexington. She describes it as a line of contemporary ceramic jewelry and housewares inspired by the rustic beauty of the Bluegrass State coupled with modernity, creativity, and refined skill. 

A prolific art-maker, Chinn says “My artwork grounds me in this world. It gives me great satisfaction. It’s a compulsion, and I am obliged to give in.”

Born and raised in Lexington, Chinn is a mother, artist, business owner and educator, having taught in the art departments of the University of Kentucky, Georgetown College, Eastern Kentucky University and Bluegrass Community and Technical College. Danville residents may have encountered Chinn’s work at any number of regional art festivals, including the Great American Art Festival during this summer’s Great American Brass Band Festival.

Chinn will be teaching several classes at the Arts Center this fall, including Kids Pottery, Clay Jewelry and Introduction to Wheel-Throwing. 

“My approach to teaching in the visual arts, regardless of the specific discipline or level, is to encourage investigation and appeal to each student’s potential for success through the creative process.”

Chinn says that clay is an ideal medium for children because kids like to get dirty. “I think working with clay helps keep kids connected to the earth, which is important. And because clay is so malleable it allows for a lot of experimentation.” In her Kids Pottery class, students will learn both hand-building and wheel-throwing techniques, as well as how to glaze their finished pieces.

When asked about the benefits of pottery class for adults, Chinn laughingly responds — “The same as for kids!” In her adult classes, Chinn focuses on the experience of working with clay, encouraging her students to enjoy the feel of the clay, the movement of the wheel, and the process of artistic creation. When creating her distinctive jewelry, Chinn uses natural materials including leather cording and wooden beads to compliment pendants and other elements made from clay. She says she looks forward to sharing her techniques with students in her Clay Jewelry class, which starts this Saturday.

The ceramics program at the Arts Center includes classes for children and adults, a gallery of pieces available for sale, and a studio membership program that gives potters expanded access to the ceramics studio to continue honing their skills. The program receives support from the Corning Incorporated Foundation. 

“We’re grateful for their investment in this program,” says Executive Director Niki Kinkade. “Our ceramics program has been growing so quickly over the last few years that we’ve needed to make improvements to some of our materials and processes – like buying new supplies and paying for professional cleaning of the studio. Our friends at Corning Incorporated Foundation have really helped us elevate the quality of our programming through their generous support.”

IF YOU GO 

Fall ceramics classes: 

• Wheel-Thrown Pottery, 7-9 p.m. Wednesdays, Aug. 23-Oct. 4, $200 (14+) 

• Open studio, 7-9 p.m. Thursdays, Aug. 24-Oct. 5, $200 (14+) 

• Clay Jewelry, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Aug. 26-Sept. 16, $85 (14+) 

• Kids Pottery, 9:30-11 a.m., Aug. 26-Sept. 16, $80 (1st-8th grade) 

For more information or to register, visit communityartscenter.net