ART@HAND Partnership Spotlight: Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio

In the spring and summer of 2019, NCC teaching artists Guillermo Guardia and Lucy Yogerst led clay classes at Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES) Adult Day in West St. Paul and at their new location on East 7th Street.

During the 12-session partnership with CLUES Adult Day, an average of 17 people had their hands involved in the making of a unique piece of ceramic art. From self-portrait masks, to lemonade cups, each individual created and decorated their own clay art.

This partnership employed the talents of two different teaching artists, enabling different styles of instruction, and myriad projects to be explored with the participants. Regardless of previous experience with clay, new teaching artists bring learners new techniques and inspiration. Many of the Adult Day participants had a small experience with clay prior to this partnership with NCC, but some had never touched the material before NCC’s instruction.

The group of participants was always lively, as reported by our teaching artists, and a language barrier with one of the teaching artists held no one back from laughter! Guillermo was able to communicate directly with the students, since he is from Peru and a native Spanish speaker. During the sessions that Lucy Yogerst led, an interpreter was present to help with communications. Clay is a unique art medium in that much knowledge can be gleaned just by watching and following someone else’s movements. Even so, NCC believes it is critical to have interpretation available for classes in which the teaching artist doesn’t speak a participant’s primary language. Interpretation ensures that all instruction is clearly communicated and is essential when questions arise to help participants problem solve.

In recent years, NCC teaching artists have worked with American Sign Language (ASL), Somali, Oromo, Amharic, and Spanish interpreters to facilitate clay classes. It is a joy for our teachers to see the interpreters learning about ceramics right alongside the participants. It is impossible to just speak about clay during a hands-on class; the interpreters and all of our helpers have to get hands-on and create for themselves.

Interpreter Juan Pablo reflected on the classes and how they bring new experiences to the participants. He shared with us his excitement in seeing everyone learning something new and out of the ordinary and how wonderful it feels, “just to have a little moment of life where we can create things with our hands.”

The final class session was taught at the new CLUES Adult Day location on East 7th street in St. Paul. That moment in which the emerging makers get to hold their completed artworks for the first time never gets old! Participants are excited for future classes and we look forward to scheduling our next sessions at their new location in 2020!

If you would like to set up a class or demonstration for your group of 55+ers or you want to learn more about NCC’s ART@HAND programing, please contact Alison Beech, Community Engagement Manager, at 612.339.8007 x313 or alisonbeech@northernclaycenter.org.

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