December 2017

by Cassie Stephens, Art Teacher, Johnson Elementary

Audry Deal-McEver

Several months ago, I was attending one of Nashville’s amazing arts and craft fairs. Having grown up in a small town, the only craft fairs I was privy to were hosted by the local church. Between the baked pies and cookies, they usually sold crocheted potholders and burnt wood boxes with words such as BREAD and TATERS. As you can imagine, I was in complete shock when I experienced my first craft show here in Music City. I fell in love with the weavers, the potters, the painters, and printmakers, just to name a few. Since first attending, I always make it a point to go.

Recently, I decided to bring those artists into my elementary art room via video. As I wandered the stalls, I began collecting cards of the artists whose work I admired. Once home, I’m not ashamed to admit that I did a little online stalking to see just what their work and their story were all about. One such artist who really struck a chord was Audry Deal- McEver.

Audry is a Nashville potter whose work is intriguing because of the beautiful shape of her pottery and the stunning surface design. I knew immediately I wanted to share her work with my students. In an effort to expose my wee artists to artists beyond the “dead white dudes,” I thought she’d be perfect to film and interview. Little did I know just what an amazing teacher she is to boot!

Audry’s studio

After an email exchange, Audry kindly agreed to host me in her home/studio for a few hours one hot summer morning. I was warmly greeted by her and her feline fam (being a cat person myself, I took this as a good sign). After offering me a mug of tea, Audry took me to her amazingly organized and cozy pottery studio. We chatted for a bit and I shared my idea with her: to capture a contemporary artist “in the wild.” For my young students, their exposure to artists is usually the children’s books I read. It’s hard for them to imagine that as being a reality. By filming Audry, I wanted to bring an artist’s experience to life.

What I didn’t discover in my online lurking is that Audry was a teacher for many years. As soon as I set up my tripod and got the camera rolling, she naturally and beautifully explained the process of creating her work. What I loved is that she shared the process from beginning to end: from the wedging of the clay, throwing on the wheel, surface design, glazing, and even firing! I felt like I was taking a crash course in all things pottery. I know that my students will not only learn so much from her but also gain an appreciation for her work: the effort, imagination, and dedication that go into creating each piece.

Thank you so much, Audry, for inviting me into your home and studio. I know my students will love learning from you. Might I suggest a carving of TATERS on your next piece?

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