David Olson has always been fascinated with “the making of visual images. As a child, I remember the feeling of accomplishment, the discovery process, when I played with different materials,” David said.
Today, as The Clayworks studio program manager, David passes on that fascination of discovery to a whole new group of developing artists. He has worked in the position since The Clayworks opened in 2011.
David and his staff use what he calls a “gentle teaching” approach to introducing The Clayworks participants to media that include pottery, painting and drawing. The artists choose the projects they work on, with no time limits or boundaries, but with guidance from the staff when it’s asked for. The artists’ finished products are for sale to the public in The Clayworks shop, and each artist pockets 100 percent of the money from the work they sell.
David has taught at Wichita State University, Newman University and Bethany College, and remains active as a practicing artist. His current artwork uses paper, intricately bent, folded, and cut, to create unique shapes and configurations.
Without question, David says the artists he assists at The Clayworks influence the work he creates on his own. “I look at art as something that is continually moving — continually morphing and developing. When the individuals at The Clayworks start a project, they start with something they think is just a mound of material. But as they work with it, it grows, transitions and changes. It’s impossible not to be caught up in the fascination they feel.”
“Clay, and sound.” That’s what fascinates The Clayworks’ studio coordinator Janie Tubbs. Often, her projects incorporate both to become drums, whistles, shakers and other clay musical instruments. Barry Hall features her work in the book From Mud To Music.
Before joining The Clayworks staff as studio coordinator, Janie was administrative assistant for the art department, and webmaster, at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan. She also taught as part of the Lindsborg Arts Council Summer Recreation Program in Arts and Crafts.
In her Clayworks position, Janie runs the studio. She is the go-to source for help and direction in working with greenware, clay and the studio’s potter’s wheel. She has recently introduced the artists to another one of her favorite media, basket weaving.
Janie’s skill in administration and management is key to The Clayworks success. “She knows how to make things happen,” program manager David Olson says. “Janie understands how to manage a classroom so that successful art can happen on a daily basis. And she’s been essential in helping to make this a successful business that financially rewards its artists for the work they do.”
“The idea of family has been a huge influence for my own artwork,” Janie said. “That’s one of the many reasons I love working at The Clayworks. We’re a family that helps and encourages each other, and loves each other.”