25th Anniversary Interview - Peter Jadoonath, Teaching Artist
What is your relationship with NCC?
I’m a teacher; that’s my primary relationship with NCC. I teach adult evening classes and the occasional event. I also volunteer for the APF and other events.
Why did you get involved initially?
Well, Sarah basically called my bluff. About ten years ago, before I taught at NCC, I’d always go there to look at pots and browse. I was visiting one day and I happened to visit during the APF. Sarah Millfelt was at the door taking tickets and she put the pressure on me about teaching. I finally said yes, not taking it seriously, and, two months later, she called and said, “your class filled, it starts next week.” That first session, I was so nervous and stumbling over my words. But, this experience was good for me; it got me to start questioning my own choices in the studio, etc.
Why do you stay involved?
What happens when someone gets involved in clay (be it in elementary or high school or retirement), from my perspective, the relationships built in the clay community are pretty strong. NCC’s facilities, the large quantity of open studio time, and the genuine and passionate people, all make for a strong and supportive environment. When I go to teach at NCC, I feel bad because it’s like I’m getting paid to go hang out with friends. Obviously, I’m teaching and working, but it is fun. The way I teach — I am not the kind of teacher that pushes his own agenda. I want people to learn by experiencing how I make pots and then through individual guidance. I challenge students to make choices outside their comfort zone. To be successful, they have to trust in their teacher. You have to be able to really talk to students about pots and NOT about pots. That’s how I teach.
What is the most surprising thing that happened during your relationship with NCC?
The most surprising and gratifying thing was getting a Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant from NCC in 2007. Prior to receiving the grant, I’d always second-guessed myself to no end; I had trouble trusting my instincts with clay. Getting the Jerome was incredibly validating, as it challenged me to make other choices.