Friday, April 8, 2011

Meet Our Teachers...

Introducing Mary Elllin D'Agostino

How long have you been working with metal clay?
Since 1998.

What did you do before that?
I have always done art, but prior to finding and falling in love with metal clay, I was an anthropologist and archaeologist just completing my PhD. I taught and fixed computers and was interviewing for university academic jobs when I took a turn onto the road less traveled and started teaching metal clay.

What other mediums do you work with?
I love lots of mediums--ceramics, glass, enamels, pencil, watercolor, acrylic, oils, collage, pastel, cloth, paper, metal fabrication, photography, digital art, screen printing, and probably others that don't come to mind at the moment.

How did you come to be a PMC Connection Senior Teacher?
I came in at the very beginning. I had become one of the first 10 (?) Art Clay USA certification instructors and followed Mary Ann Devos to PMC Connection. I started the first summer after I finished teaching my last scheduled Art Clay certification class.

What do you think is the most exciting aspect of teaching?
Giving people the knowledge and power to create their own beautiful works of art and jewelry. I just love the way people take what I show them and fuse it with their own ideas and come up with fabulous, original art. Did I mention I like working with people? Much better than computers!

Sun & Sea City. Photo by George Post

Do you have a studio in your home? What does it look like?
My one and only studio is attached to my home in the room formerly known as the garage. I share it with the washer, dryer, and freezer. We spent a lot of time painting the place, putting in a functioning sink, adding electric circuits, painting and installing cupboards. When it is clean, it looks fab, though very white because I want the colors of my work to be the focus and not have colored walls affect how they look.

Do you teach at home or another venue?

I love to teach at home because I always have that one extra tool or supply item that a student needs and I don't have to cart everything around. I also teach at bead shops, community centers, colleges, and travel all over the country for workshops. I am getting back into traveling a bit more now that my daughter is getting older (5 1/2!).

Do you like to take classes yourself? What kind?
I love to take classes of all types, but have focused on jewelry and related classes over the past 10 years. A lot of times, I make my own class by reading a bit about a media or technique and then just diving in to it.

Do you sell your work? Where?
When I get around to it! LOL. I have done shows in the past, but really prefer galleries and boutiques because I am really not into [the selling end of the business].

Where do you find inspiration?
Lots of places! I am inspired by nature, my students, art and culture. Recently, I went to Van Gough, Gauguin Cézanne, and Beyond: Post Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d'Orsay at the De Young Museum in San Francisco and was immediately transported into the land of inspiration. Wow!

What are you working on at the moment?
[My last] exhibit, combined with the sample pieces I was making for the new PMCC certification curriculum, really got the creative juices running and I am revisiting and improving work based on a sketch series I started many, many years ago. I keep vacillating between calling it the Motherhood, Parenthood, or Playground series. I am working on the metal clay Masters Registry program and I *will* get those first ten projects finished soon. Not to mention my alloying research and writing all that stuff for CornerStone as the new technical advisor....

Where has your work been published?
Quite a few places besides CornerStone and my own website/blog ( One of my favorite published written pieces was in Archaeology Magazine in July/August 2000. It was titled "Privy Business" and was about chamber pots, drinking parties, and sex. Serious research. Really.

Tell us about an artistic hero or influence.
Someone else asked me that about a week ago. If they hadn't I would have had a hard time answering this because I just couldn't think of an answer at that time. I decided my artistic hero(ine) is Vera Lightstone. Vera, one of the PMCC Senior Instructors, is a fabulous sculptor and teacher. She has the most wonderful and perceptive outlook on life. Every chance I get; I take a class with her or talk to her. If I lived in Manhattan, I would be one of her groupie students! I have learned a lot about art, developing my [style], and teaching from her. I think Monet and Van Gough are big influences on me, but I wouldn't go so far as to say they are heroes.Is there a new direction that you’d like to explore?

Is there a new direction that you’d like to explore?
I am focusing on a new direction in my teaching by looking to teach more children's classes and bring art and learning to disadvantaged kids. Kids are great because they don't have all our adult inhibitions.

Thanks, Mary Ellin.
We've loved reading all your wonderful technical articles
and now we're delighted to get to know you a bit better.

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