I just returned from a week of teaching at Peters Valley. What a beautiful place ,snuggled into the Delaware Water Gap in the little town of Layton New Jersey, it is a place for reflection on nature and an artists life. The summer has been such a whirl wind , my travels to Canada and then the badlands, back three days and off to Peters Valley. My five days there were thought provoking in many ways. It was the last session of the summer and the atmosphere was quiet. The cafeteria was never crowded and my dedicated class worked each night in the studio until 10:00. While eating my first breakfast I saw a woman that looked familiar. I introduced myself and we realized that we had been at EMMA Lake together a month before. her name is Marlene True and she was the metals teacher for the week. We shared the faculty house and got to talking the second night we were there about how great the collaborative process at EMMA was for us. We decided to introduce it as a possibility for our current classes. She was teaching making jewelry and objects from bottle caps and tin cans , and I was teaching  turned and bandsaw boxes. Needless to say we had some great collaboration. The act of collaborating brought people together and by the end of the week we all had a farewell party together. For those reading this that do not usually take classes, it is common to stay in your own studio because you are so excited about having the time and focus to learn something new, while all around you are other incredible skills being taught that you do not even know about. We ended up with a woodturner who went to learn soldering,  a metal worker who came to learn woodturning (for an evening),and connection were made for future collaboration. Marlene and I are going to teach a collaborative class next year combining metal and wood.

The week made me think about how high my excitement level for my work has been recently. It has a lot to do with going out in the world and meeting other artists. My life as an artist has always been solitary. When I met Jenn Moller in 2005 and we started collaborating on projects it was an eye opener. Two people have much better ideas than one. When you get 100 artists all sharing ideas and skills together for a week like EMMA it is unbelievable. I made things I really love that I would never have made by myself in my shop . Peters Valley was like that for me this time. Marlene was great. She taught my wonderful assistant Ellie Richards and I how to make a brooch from a bottle cap. I have it in the van and look at it every time I drive. It will always be an object containing the memories of my great time at Peters Valley and my thought provoking summer of collaborations. Here are some pictures of boxes my students made.

About turningaroundamerica

Collaborative Team of Jenn Moller and Beth Ireland
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