With fists full of slick clay, Erica Passage and her brother would return from their dive to the bottom of their Michigan neighborhood’s lake with plentiful working materials. Resurfacing on the swim platform, they would lay the clay out to dry and then shape animals out of the piles. Mud, dirt, and clay were always available as play material for the outdoorsy Passage, and she knew she’d be a serious maker from the moment her elementary school art teacher handed her a ball of clay.
To this day, the pinch pot she crafted remains a relic of her childhood, stowed away in her parents’ house. The pot reflects her fourth-grade appreciation for Native American art —Passage recalls digging up her backyard for arrowheads and using them as an inspiration for the faux zigzag design she carved into the side of the pot with her pencil.
“It’s gotten to the point where I can’t throw it away,” laughs Passage. “That object holds the memory. Objects, in a way, create the memory too, and you can start to wonder if you would even have this memory if the object didn’t exist.”
As the Supervisor of Lafayette Arts and Crafts Center, she’s excited to offer the Tallahassee community new opportunities to slow down and enjoy classes that can unleash their creativity. The center’s space is malleable to allow all kinds of experiences, and as an educator, Passage believes in everyone’s ability and right to learn. Her top priority is making the center more visible to citizens of all ages, as well as offering a plethora of new classes and summer camps that offer high-quality lessons and activities at a low cost.
The center’s newest sessions range from children’s classes in modern art history, where students will experience hands-on lessons focused on more than seventy years of art to adult classes in a wide variety of mediums. Currently, an eight-week class for beginning pottery and wheel throwing will give students a taste for how to center clay on the wheel and make cylindrical objects.
Passage emphasizes that students do not have to enroll in classes in any kind of sequential order, and credits the center’s excellent instructors for making every studio feel like a tight-knit community where all skill levels are welcome. She’s particularly excited to introduce more classes for parents and children where families can work side-by-side in activities like sewing and crafting. Recalling her own childhood and working with her mom in art classes, she’s hoping this offering, among the many others on the roster, will provide new opportunities for families and attendees to bond through creativity.
“I think these classes benefit the community of Lafayette Park, where parents and children can make sweet memories,” says Passage. “Arts are important for the community, and it’s great that the city provides this space. The world can be a pretty ugly place at times, but art can show people how to make their lives more beautiful and cherish more moments.”
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