MAC – Multnomah Arts Center Instructors

Annette Lansing

Art – Ceramics

Annette Lansing

I love the process of creating with clay. It brings me calm and lets me express myself in ways that I can’t do with words. I began coming to the Multnomah Arts Center as a new ceramic student in the beginning of 2004. The infinite opportunity to create new things, make mistakes and follow wild hairs has made me better able to tackle life’s uncertainties. Who knew?

When I get an idea for a ceramic piece, I have a tendency to do a lot of preplanning to help solidify my vision on the one hand, and on the other hand I go off on tangents, letting whimsy take me by the hand and lead me around. For example, you know how in the Fall the leaves start turning, crinkling up and falling on the road? And, then there you are, innocently driving along, when the wind picks up and skitters the leaves right toward your car, startling you to think that they must be alive, at least for a moment? This is a typical kind of tangent I get on, and then I’ll study images of spiders to try to understand how their creepy legs articulate. (Studying spiders made me feel pretty darn heroic considering that spiders give me the heebie-jeebies!) See the image above to see where my study of leaves and spiders took me.

With my experience in clay, masters in teaching, and recent studies in aging at PCC, I’ve been in a prime position to teach Beginning Handbuilding to 55 and Better for the last year. It’s a partnership program with the Multnomah Arts Center, Neighborhood House, and Senior Rec. Even though the class is about the basic techniques of pinching, coiling and slab — a tasting of what is available at the Multnomah Arts Center ceramic studio — we always have discussions about the intertwining of technique, creativity and a sense of aesthetics, and what that really means for the beginner. I give my students that which I crave from ceramics, the opportunity to experiment, make mistakes and follow those wild hairs. In turn, teaching handbuilding has made me a better handbuilder.