Creation is Essential

By Tyler Goodwin, Tilton Arts Teacher

Creation uncovers possibility. Each time a student enters Tilton School’s Daly Art Center, they have an opportunity to experience new ways of thinking and learning through the creative process. We don’t mistake the spaces within for classrooms, for they are truly studios where we, as instructors, collaborate with students as they engage with a variety of tools, materials, and techniques.

As an arts educator and ceramics instructor, I feel so privileged to guide students on the journey of creation. My life has taken on greater meaning not only through creating but in watching my students develop their own passion for the arts. Many arrive in the ceramics studio with little to no experience, and begin to discover the magic of a material humans have used for thousands of years. Quite often this leads to two, three, even four years in the program.

I believe creation is an Essential Skill to student engagement in their community. It takes a synthesis of physical and mental energy to  create an object, and students take great joy from creating something as tangible and permanent as a piece of pottery. The connection to the earth and to our ancestors that is felt when working with clay provides a respite from our increasingly digital world. On the other hand, we also relish the opportunity to dive into the digital arts, an area of programming Tilton has committed to expanding. The impact of creating a design project or short film that can instantly be published and seen by people all over the world helps them feel connected in a totally different, equally important, way. Regardless of the means of creation, the act allows them to make their mark on this world.

At Tilton School, we encourage students to uncover and embrace their true potential. As a ceramics teacher, this has always resonated with me. Each student possesses the potential to discover and develop a passion they never knew they had when seated at the potter’s wheel. Each lump of clay holds the potential to be transformed into a beautiful and prized object.

Endless possibilities emerge as students are empowered to develop their ideas, hone their skills, and practice tirelessly.

The impact of the studio experiences here at Tilton brings me great pride. Objects of beauty and utility demonstrate the potential to learn a new skill and develop an understanding for form and surface. It is common to have students who sign up for multiple years of ceramics, and perhaps go on to be Teacher’s Assistant as upperclassmen, or work toward building a portfolio of work for application to collegiate programs. A current student, who despite learning remotely this fall, is working at a studio in Shanghai to ensure he can continue to hone the skills he has developed in his first three years in the program.

Students of all levels find the studio to be a place where they can focus on the skill of creation; where growth and development is something they can see and feel in their work; a gifted bowl traveling home with a friend from afar, a pot kept for display here on the Hill, or a mug brought home for daily use––the pieces that emerge from the studio create meaningful connections for the students. The physical and mental process of developing the skills to create these works, is a different type of learning that kids thrive on.