25th Anniversary Interview: Kristen Stuenkel

How did you get involved with NCC?
It started with the ClayToGo partnership with Columbia Heights Public Schools’ (CHPS) after-school program, which I supervise as the Director of Community Education. Ongoing programs gave me an understanding of NCC’s outreach program. I also stopped in the Sales Gallery to purchase gifts for special occasions.

In September 2014, I decided to enroll in an introductory clay class, Land of Round Pots. I have always been drawn to using my hands to create, through weaving, knitting, spinning, and upholstery classes, so it was a natural step to give it a try. I hoped to gain an appreciation for the process in the class, and it ended up capturing my imagination. 

What was the most surprising thing that happened during your work with NCC?
I didn’t realize the community I’d find at Northern Clay Center. I have learned so much about pottery through the community of potters at NCC. I think the open studio (in each education class) fosters this sense of community.

What is different now from what you expected?
I am amazed by the variety of people who enroll in clay classes! A variety of professional backgrounds are represented in the education studios. There are a lot of retired and current educators too. You have to wonder, why clay?!

What do you think might be different in ten years?
The handmade trend has been in the spotlight and hopefully it continues to expand. I hope individuals continue to live authentic lives and be surrounded by useful things of beauty, including ceramic objects. I hope NCC continues to find ways to engage a wider demographic in making and appreciating clay.