Ceramics major Molly Spadone graduated after completing her Senior thesis this past May. She is currently waiting for March to roll around so she can begin a two year work study program at the Penland School of Crafts. Below is an interview with Molly about her experiences since graduation and her future plans.
What have you been up to since graduation?
Upon graduating I flew to New Mexico and made the classic post graduate road trip all the way to a little town in rural Maine. My plan was to work with/apprentice a local potter who had recently opened a bed and breakfast. When I arrived he showed me the studio, which was a storage space in the basement. I quickly got to work moving years of junk, cleaning, painting, and setting up shop. I felt lucky to have a studio space right out of school. Under my teacher’s wing we sold our work at local craft fairs. I quickly learned people really like blue and shiny, so for my second show I made everything blue and shiny. Not to my surprise I sold it all. I can’t say I felt great about it. Soon after, my studio and work position at the inn became fuzzy. I had a hard time defining friendship, apprenticeship, and employment opportunity with one person. Looking back on the situation I see where I went wrong and have learned to research new opportunities before committing. My expectations were huge and based on little. So, my plans changed and I started working on an organic farm, sometimes 60 hours a week. I wouldn’t have traded the farm experience for anything.
When did you first hear about Penland, and can you tell us a little about your experiences there, also what you expect for the next couple of years?(starting in March of course)
My Junior year at Guilford I was encouraged to apply for a work study position for a summer course. I was accepted. I took at class called Pots for Food with a Norwegian potter name Elisa Helland-Hansen. I worked in the kitchen to pay my way, cranked out pots, fired kilns, and drank PBR. I would say it was a semester of work in two weeks. This class continued to feed me throughout the entire thesis process. Penland is an incredible experience and I recommend all Guilford art students to do summer work-study.
Starting in March I will be one of nine core students. The Core Student program is a work/study exchange. I will be part of the inner and outer workings of the school and be an integral part of the Penland community. I will work for the school running the work/study program and in exchange participate in the classes from spring to fall and receive room, board, and a small stipend. Students are encouraged to work outside of their medium and take as broad range of classes that will influence their vision as a maker.
What is on the agenda these next 3 months before your fellowship starts?
Currently I am living in a little cabin with no running water a woodstove for heat. I spend a huge portion of my time trying to live. If I am not hauling water or splitting wood I am waiting tables at a fancy Italian restaurant or making lattes at a local coffee shop. I am also working in the studio whipping out some holiday commissions. I am anxiously awaiting my move to North Carolina, but I will see how much of this Maine living I can take. The New Mexico sun is calling me for a visit…
What advice do you have for Guilford art majors following in your footsteps (thesis, BFA, etc)?
I took my time at Guilford pretty seriously. By the end of my sophomore year I was committed to my medium and determined to have a spectacular thesis exhibition. My enthusiasm and determination was the reason for my success. I believe work ethic and passion cannot be separated to achieve success. I would advise students to also ask for help often and from many people. It was important for me to reach out for critique or just guidance in general. The thesis program can be heartbreaking and rewarding and it is critical to surround yourself with all sorts of people that care.
Sum up your artist statement/philosophy in one sentence:
With my work I want to create an environment that is more intimate and personal, one that goes beyond the utilitarian function of objects by making their use more human.