United States historian and presidential descendent Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918) once said, “Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops.” This is why ArtBeat Magazine is pleased to introduce ceramics instructor Christy Weiser, New School for the Arts and Academics, to our readers.
The 2020/21 school year is underway with a different, but good, start. Weiser is a born teacher who loves the profession and it shows. She has lived and taught in at least six different states, lastly here in the Valley of the Sun where she makes her home and shares a studio with her husband, acclaimed ceramicist Kurt Weiser. She is proud of their son Garth, MFA, and daughter-in-law Francesca DiMattio, both accomplished artists working out of New York with their two children.
It all began when Weiser switched majors at the Kansas City Art Institute after beginning student life as a painter. “I took one look at the painting department and said ‘I want more instruction and more techniques’,” she recalls. “So I chose the design department; photography, graphic design, commercial art and more. I remember the Bauhaus teacher spoke no English.”
We asked her to delve further into these formative years. She continues, “I would go out to fire wood kilns with the ceramic students while I was shooting photos for design class. I ended up loving firing kilns and never touched clay,” Weiser says. “I worked in design and realized firing the kiln was great compared to the dark room. I loved the energy in firing. So I switched my major junior year and stayed an extra year to have three complete years in ceramics to receive my Bachelor of Fine Arts.”
She adds, “I loved the lifestyle, working with others sharing kilns and knowledge. Especially my 13 years at the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana where I instructed and assisted my then-director husband. That art center is internationally known and we worked with artists from around the world.”
Guiding others to the ways of earth and fire came early to Weiser. “All those summers between courses at KCAI I spent teaching ceramics at a fine arts camp in the Berkshires, Massachusetts. I have taught at small colleges and art centers and for a while was a nanny during Kurt’s graduate school,” Weiser shares. “Being an educator, wife, mother, grandmother and a maker-of-things brings me great joy. My clay pieces and pen and ink drawings are inspired by my environment; textures of tree bark, grasses, seed pods and the like abundant in my neighborhood.”
Weiser provides her students with inspiration and feelings of accomplishment, in class or, as of late, online. For almost two decades now at the public charter, even total newbies can find ceramics quickly becoming their favorite class. “This semester, students are exploring clay animation with puppets, videos, props and backdrops,” Weiser explains. “We are using modeling clay and the kids show up and work online for class time. We share characters and techniques for building using armatures. When the puppets are finished, we begins our set designs. After that, filming.” Hopefully, regular classroom instruction will return soon and students will again exhibit their clay creations in the school gallery.
“I enjoy the energy of the students, I love the joy they get from being successful in art,” Weiser says of her ripple effect. “The ceramic world is very family. Ceramists love to cook, love to share recipes, love to share techniques, work well together in community firings, wood kilns especially,” she attests. “Ceramists always figure things out and are willing to learn. They do things their way. To me, they are independent people, very different in the other art worlds.” We couldn’t agree more.
ArtBeat Magazine wishes students and faculty at NSAA good luck the rest of the year. Please see the above links for more information about each artist. Thank you.