With the newly renovated art studio and its shiny new kiln, many residents are making pottery for the first time. Joyce Parker teaches some of these classes and shared this story about a fellow resident’s joy in learning a new skill.
Art Studio Pleasures
Katherine Nunley has been a resident since 2000. She came from Shaker Heights and moved into an apartment at Kendal at Oberlin. At age 93, she took up an invitation to join one of our 2014 Clay Workshops in the Art Room before it became a studio. She felt unsure and hesitant about this new activity, naturally, because she had never done anything like this before. Wanting to learn more about the process and techniques of hand-building, she was glad to take home some clay and a beginning book on making pottery without a wheel. She worked on making bowls in her kitchen and then attended about four more group sessions when they were offered. She has made at least 8 objects. “Though it is pleasing to like the results of my work,” says Katherine, “I find it more important to know that being willing to try something new and have some success is the most rewarding.”
A Lifelong Spirit of Giving
She tells me how tired she feels and how she doesn’t get good rest at night. Managing life’s schedules and demands alone is not easy at nearly 94, but she struggles on living independently. Yet, Katherine’s mind is sharp; as I see it, she is a special person. All her life, she has been helpful to others and still looks after her older brother. “She found an avenue for public service through her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Serving on many committees dealing with such subjects as community relations and community action, she received an award from the Cleveland chapter commending her 50 years of service. One of her sorority awards is named after her.” After 26 years, she retired from teaching elementary school. She gave years of service on behalf of the African-American community of Cleveland.
Enjoying a New Skill
In early June, 2015, Katherine came down with her rolator to the new Art Studio and sat across from me at the long table. The pots that she had made the month before were placed before her, ready for glaze. Seeing her lovely coil-formed pot with the braid of coils well placed at the opening was very encouraging for her. I feel that she was doing well as a beginner and her sense of accomplishment was obvious. She smiles! But she has to confess that it was not easy coming down to the Art Studio. Her knees were hurting. She was tired and felt like staying alone in her apartment. “It’s getting harder to do things!” she said with feeling. After some conversation, Katherine chose her glaze and began to concentrate on her work. After a period of brushing on glaze in silence, she reported, “This is so relaxing! I’m so glad I came. I feel better.” I smile. Later, after the firing of this rounded, now dark satin blue pot, she exclaimed, ” I can’t believe it!” Big smile!
Written by Joyce Parker
Katherine also asked that we share how grateful she is that Joyce generously shares her time with others as a teacher in the Art Studio.