Teaching Artist Spotlight: Chloe Rizzo

NCC is excited to welcome Chloe Rizzo to the teaching artist roster! You may have already seen her hard at work in the Outreach Zone as she has been teaching with us through our ClayToGo and ART@HAND outreach programs since 2019. Pursuing new opportunities in clay, Rizzo and her family moved from Northwest Texas to Minnesota in 2017. Since the move, she has settled into her home studio in St. Paul. With 20 years of teaching experience under her belt, she brings a wealth of knowledge (and a friendly face) to the Education Studios at NCC. Read on to learn more about how her teaching and artistic practices cross-pollinate.

NCC: What is your favorite thing about teaching?
CR: Teaching has given me the gift of confidence. I have always been a very shy person. After grad school, the challenge of facing my first classroom full of students was terribly daunting, but I was determined to share my love of ceramics and the creative process. The only way I could give my students the confidence to experiment, freedom to question, and room to discover, was to enter my classroom genuine and ready to relate on a level that I don't experience anywhere else.

NCC: What do you think is the most fundamental skill set for success in ceramics?
CR: Resilience, flexibility, and commitment. Ceramic artists face a lot of failure, and while there is always something new to learn about process, technology, or techniques, it can be frustrating. I share stories of my first hideous attempts at ceramics with my students, because we've all faced pieces that fail our expectations. In my studio, I am always challenging myself, pushing the limits of my materials or process. At the same time my thoughts flow so fast while working, I can only fit all the ideas in by layering new techniques into each piece. I take a lot of time to develop my work through testing and experimentation so I have to be committed, willing to let it grow through the changes. 

NCC: Will you share a memorable moment from the classroom?
CR: I love hearing stories from my students. Recently, I was working on a public art piece from my pollinator series that highlights the connectedness of generations through shared relationships to nature. I asked one of my students if she ever had a garden, and was given the most beautiful description of her yard, a place that transformed with each generation in her family, from a vegetable garden and playground, to a landscape filled with trees, and then to a butterfly and pollinator garden for the next family. Her story was the exact inspiration I needed, and I'm truly grateful to her for it.

Chloe Rizzo will be teaching Beyond Grace with teaching artist Elizabeth Coleman this Spring. Please give her a warm welcome in Studio C!