25th Anniversary Interview: Lucy V. Yogerst, Teaching Artist

What is your relationship with NCC?

I’m on faculty for adult classes; I do outreach with adults living with disabilities; lead events in corporate America; as well as lead teacher-in-service workshops. It’s just so automatic, I don’t really think about it. Oh yeah! I volunteer for events too!

Why did you get involved initially?

There were no classes for little kids. I taught the first class for preschoolers and their caregivers. Then, because there were no classes for teens, I started teaching teen wheel classes. The first summer we had clay camps, I taught 9 out of 11 of them, along with Lisa Himmelstrup and Andrea Sisel.

Why do you stay involved?

I think what we do is important. That sounds so lofty, but people are looking for a way to express themselves using their hands. Clay is a material that responds to touch, and there is communication there. When you give a person a rock, they hold it. When you give them clay, they start playing. It’s fascinating. I tell people, “Clay has a million ways to get it right.” Also, I love to share the stuff I know.

What makes NCC so unique?

The people. There’s no getting around it. Everyone is here because they want to be here, and that makes all the difference.

What was the most gratifying thing that happened during your relationship with NCC?

Hale Field School had a fourth grade teacher who requested me for a residency with her students. I couldn’t do it because of the timing, but she said she would wait! I ended up teaching there for 4 years. When she announced her retirement and the end of the residency, the third graders were in an uproar. “We’ve been waiting for clay since first grade!” It felt good to be wanted.

Also, when they hired Jennica Kruse (NCC technician), Chris Singewald mentioned her name. I thought, “MY Jennica?!” She was one of my students at NCC’s old location in St. Paul. It’s gratifying when your student becomes your colleague.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Bethesda Hospital. I worked with five populations of patients there…people with head injuries, strokes, etc. Over 90% had never done anything they would characterize as artistic. We made a difference in the lives of over 100 people. Each person made a ceramic leaf tile for a permanent installation of a tree. They each expressed on their leaf what it was like for them to live in the midst of a serious illness or injury. We gave them a level of confidence in an area they had never experienced. That was important.

How do you share NCC with your friends?

NCC is very integrated into my life. (Lucy laughs.) How do I turn that off? 99% of the people I’m friends with are connected to creativity. They are already in the loop. They are members, collectors, artists. They all have pots in their houses.