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Ceramics Artist-in-Residence Teaches Raku at East CH

The East Chapel Hill High School (ECHHS) ceramics students in Melissa Vrooman-Olson’s classes experienced master instruction in raku through a Public School Foundation (PSF) funded artist-in-residency program with Delores Farmer. The residency began in mid-April with sessions on wheel throwing techniques and ended on May 22 with a virtual field trip to Liberty Arts Studio in Durham to observe the raku firing process at Farmer’s studio. Most classes were held live but also with full remote adaptations, so all students could share in the instruction.

Enjoy the slide show here.

Student Ragini Reed said, "Raku firing with Delores was a really great experience in Ceramics class, and we learned about the different methods of firing. I had previously not known that any other methods of firing existed beyond the type that we used in school, and with Delores, the raku experience opened up a lot of new possibilities and ideas of what I can try in the future in college and beyond."

Farmer grew up in Durham and attended NCCU. She is a self-taught potter and has been working full time as an artist since 2013. Her work has been widely exhibited in the Southeast.

Program Services Manager at PSF, Nancy Zeman, said, “Delores Farmer is amazing. I sat in on a class, and she did so much in the one hour session. She threw two different pieces on the wheel, gave a tour of Liberty Studios, talked about making a living as an artist--all the while answering questions from the students.”

Students had the opportunity to make two ceramic pieces from home or in-person. Farmer demonstrated raku glazing techniques in one class from her studio, and then the exciting raku firing process of their pieces was filmed. The video was shared with students since they were not able to attend the firing live this year. 

"This experience was very enriching because it gave an inside perspective to what being a professional potter is really like,” said student Safia Rehman. “I also got to learn new information and tricks about glazing."

Student Joy Schwartz said, "I thoroughly enjoyed having a local potter guide us through the process of making raku pieces and firing them. It was an exciting experience that I am grateful to have participated in!" 

“We at PSF recognize the importance of cultural arts in education and are excited that we can support so many of our teachers in bringing artists, particularly artists of color,  into their classrooms,” Zeman said. “Students are enriched when they meet first-hand (either virtually or in person) real artists--maybe a writer, visual artist, or musician--who can share their craft and what it means to be an artist in today's world.”