Meet the Artists
Jane West Walsh
Jane West Walsh says that her life as an artist has been transformed since taking her first workshop at Clayworks in 2006. Jane grew up in Allentown Pennsylvania where she first worked with clay at the Baum Art School, where her mother sent her for classes every weekend as a child. Later, encouraged by William Allen High School teachers James Musselman, Richard Firestone clay artist Ken Blanchard, Jane had the opportunity to learn graphic design, painting, sculpture, pottery, metalwork, jewelry and printmaking. Taking herself seriously as an artist in high school led to a year of study at the Rhode Island School of Design, then a degree in communication of science through media from Boston University.
Until the early 80's when computer graphics began to dominate the field, Jane worked as a technical graphic artist engaging in hand drawing and design that fostered communication of scientific information as a way to advance general understanding of the natural world. Following a growing interest in Jewish learning as an adult, she left her work as a graphic designer and entered the field of Jewish education after completing a masters degree in Jewish education in 1985 at the LA campus of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion. An interest in qualitative research led her to complete a doctorate in adult education at National-Louis University in Chicago in 2001, after engaging in a collaborative study of inter-religious learning with Nadira K. Charaniya, a friend and colleague who is an educational leader for the North American Ismaili Muslim community.
Through the years, while working professionally as an educator in synagogues, Jewish communal organizations and educational institutions, Jane continued to develop her thought and practice as an artist. Over time, she moved away from a focus on 2 dimensional media to working in 3 dimensions carving wax for castings in silver and bronze and, more recently, working with clay.
A decision to participate as member of a community of working artists led Jane to Clayworks shortly after relocating to Baltimore in 2005. Amanda Pellerin's Mosaic Madness workshop was a terrific introduction, followed by introduction to clay and a tile class, also with Amanda. Inspired by the work of Viktor Schrekengost, Jane then challenged herself to move from tiles and mosaics to handbuilding symmetrical forms by studying the discipline of Jamaican Coil with Sam Wallace. The two large pots displayed here were some of the first pieces created in Jamaican Coil, one from her first firing in the wood kiln and the other at cone 10 in the gas kiln, with matte turquoise glaze. Jane is now exploring faces, figures and animals in clay and raku and pit firing, with help of Trisha Kyner.
While committed to continuing her own studio practice in the coming years, Jane looks forward to helping children and adults express themselves through clay and remaining an active member of the Clayworks community.