Casey DePasquale is a friend of mine; her sister is one of my dearest friends, in fact. I knew Casey was a potter, and I knew it had been put on pause for a bit while she raised two boisterous sons. Her first was born just before my daughter and her second just before my son, so I got to hear from her best practices (which are throw up your hands and dive in with both feet, more or less).
I emailed her three sets of questions that came from the heart of this blog, which is really taking a look at how passion can take root in a child and how we can help nurture and celebrate those passions.
The photographs are of the bud vase I bought a little bit ago, and it holds a special place on our mantle and in our hearts, holding some very special feathers we've collected over the years.
What originally sparked your interest in your art? What was your childhood relationship to art? Did you grow up around it? Any special memories to share?
I have loved art since before I can remember. But I did not grow up around it, or in a family with any strong appreciation of art. My family has a lot of teachers, and growing up I imagined myself becoming a middle school art teacher. (Now I think that's my nightmare!) It wasn't until having the ability to focus on art in college that I realized my passion is really for the creation of useful objects. Now I would actually consider myself more of an artisan or craftsperson, but my studies in Fine Art certainly inform my work.
Now that you are a mama yourself, do you practice art with your children? What role does your art form (or others) have in their lives?
People are often surprised that I don't do a lot of art activities with my kids! But I have 2 very active little boys who are short on patience. We like to get creative with whatever physical activities we do. Sometimes that means fun with playdoh, or building fantastical lego structures and making up stories to go with them. I have a bit of a free-range parenting style, so I don't do too many led activities. But they are starting to develop an interest in my work, and as they get older I would love to involve them more and more. Currently my studio has too many fragile things for a 3 and 5 year old to playing around in there!
One thing I like to focus on is getting them to understand that making art is my job, similar to the job of any other parent. I hope this helps them to grow up with the faith to follow their own passion, and then just believe that a "livelihood" will follow that.
Any special advice to parents and educators who'd like to integrate more art in their lives and curriculum? If you would advise the teaching of one artist, who would it be and why? If you were designing a lesson, what activity would you have the students do?
I would advise parents and educators who are afraid they're not "artsy" enough to not stress about it! (And avoid pinterest!) Kids who are allowed the freedom to explore will find their own ways to be creative. But try to start noticing art in your daily life, wether it's a city mural, a cool building, or visiting a museum. Ask questions: What do you like about this? What don't you like? Talk about colors, size, shapes. Make your own observations. This can help develop a life-long appreciation for art.
One of the easiest and most fun art projects that can be done with children of any age is creating a collage with found objects. Its a great project to incorporate into another activity like a hike or spring cleanup. (Can you make something beautiful out of litter?) This project can be dressed up with a recycled frame, easy to find at thrift stores. Remove the glass and allow children to paint the frame with acrylic paints. Glueing stuff is always a favorite with young kids!
Choosing only one artist to teach is impossible. But I will take any opportunity to share one of my heroes, Eva Zeisel. She is a huge inspiration to me in her work and her life story. Originally from Hungary, she became active in the arts at a young age with the support of her family. Later on she was imprisoned in Stalin's Russia, and then had to flee Nazi occupied Austria. When she escaped to the US, she taught design and eventually became the first woman to have a solo show at the MOMA in New York! Of functional ceramics! Her work is incredibly beautiful and sensual. She lived to be 105, and I would love so much to go back in time to sit down for tea and a chat with her.
Casey's Etsy shop has been restocked and will be again soon: caseyd ceramics. Please stop by, favorite a few of her items, maybe even order a piece for yourself! I know when I have a classroom, there will be a few caseyd pots in our room. How nice to know you are supporting a working mother-artist!