by Cassie Stephens, Art Teacher, Johnson Elementary
If you’ve never been to the Clay Lady’s Campus in Donelson, you are missing out. It’s a magical community of (mostly) ceramic artists who create, offer classes, and sell their wares in this wonderful space. You are welcome to visit anytime during their business hours and, when you do, you’ll be immediately greeted by an artist who will take you on a tour of the studios of dozens of artists. The Clay Lady’s Campus is the brainchild of the Clay Lady, aka Danielle McDaniel. It is at this amazing space that I met several artists, one of them being Becca Jane Koehler.
I first “met” Becca Jane at this past summer’s Tennessee Craft fair. She’d won the honor of being recognized for her work, and I could totally see why. Her pieces are not the usual thrown and glazed pots. Instead, they are delicate white platters, plates, bowls, even mushroom-shaped vases that are painted with cobalt-blue designs. The painting on her pottery features snakes, animals, and plants. Each piece feels as though it has a story to tell.
After chatting with her a pinch at the fair, I slyly took a business card with the intent of reaching out to her at a later date. I knew this was an artist I would love to share with my students. So I sent her a message asking if I could visit her studio space. She graciously agreed and, just a few days later, with my tripod and camera in hand, I arrived on the Clay Lady’s Campus to hang with Becca Jane.
Now, the Clay Lady’s Campus is mostly filled with open-concept studios. That means most of them are set up in such a way that artists can communicate, critique, and share ideas. Becca’s studio was just beyond the gallery space. She shares the space with her sole studio mate, her sweet pup Eleanor. After a brief chat, Becca shared her process of creating with me (and my students).
Surprisingly, Becca is fairly new to wheel throwing, although you’d never know that by her work. But she isn’t limited to just thrown pots: Many of her pieces are slab-created platters and trays. What really speaks to me in her work are her beautiful blue painted designs. Y’all, I can’t tell you how delicate and exquisite each line and design is. I was so smitten with her work, I bought several pieces!
I cannot wait to share the work of Becca with my students. I believe they’ll gather so many ideas from her unique process and her beautiful narrative designs. Feel free to give Becca Jane and all the other artists on the Clay Lady’s Campus a visit. You’ll be so thrilled and excited by what you find there!