Ceramic and clay artist Jane Neubauer finds inspiration in nature (Courtesy Photo).

Ceramic and clay artist Jane Neubauer finds inspiration in nature (Courtesy Photo).

Our Town: Clay was in the stars for Jane Neubauer

We hear from ceramic artist Jane Neubauer about how she has found fulfillment in working with clay.

  • Saturday, October 10, 2020 2:54pm
  • Arts

Arts Editor’s Note: This occasional column, presented in partnership with Vashon Island Visual Artists (ViVA) re-introduces islanders to old and new friends in Vashon’s vibrant arts community. This week, we hear from ceramic artist Jane Neubauer, in her own words, about her life’s journey and how she has found fulfillment in working with clay.

In 1997, while driving a dirt road through the forest to look at a house, I knew this would be my new home.

I wanted a place to retreat, rest, and set up a leadership and coaching business. I had just moved from London, where I studied at the Institute for Art in Education and Therapy that focused on “using the creative imagination for a more fulfilling life.” I began to build creative imagination into my coaching work and yearned for an expression of my own creativity. An astrologer in London advised that painting was too calm for me. I should try sculpting or clay work.

Perhaps it was this foretelling that led me to a Liz Lewis clay class shortly after arriving on Vashon. I also joined the Land Trust citizen science project counting salmon in Shinglemill Creek. Creativity and the ecological world would evolve as my focus points in this new Northwest life.

Eventually, I joined the pottery co-op at Beall Greenhouses and formed “The Mud Mamas” with two other local potters. I studied with master potters from Mexico, Alaska and Korea. Inspired by indigenous ceramics, I traveled to the Southwest, Mexico, and Peru to experience the real thing in cultural context.

My clay work focuses on hand-building: slab vases, pinch pots, talking pieces, spirit animals and wall sculptures. Tending toward the primitive, I use stain or add multiple clay colors for effect. Natures elements are often included in the design. Pressing a slab of clay into tree bark allows access to the energy of the tree as well as the imprint.

The astrologer was right: working in clay energizes me. It makes me laugh. It’s like being in kindergarten. I love the feel of the mud in my hands. Best of all, there’s a magical moment when the object comes alive.

For more information on Neubauer and other local artists, visit vivartists.com. The work of 100 ViVA members is currently on display, throughout October, in the organization’s third annual member’s show at Vashon Center for the Arts. The exhibit at VCA is open to the public, with strict COVID protocols in place including mandatory masking and social distancing, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays through Oct. 31.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@vashonbeachcomber.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.vashonbeachcomber.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Arts

The Desert Island Bookworm does Dostoevsky

“The Brother’s Karamazov” is an extraordinary literary achievement, replete with philosophical ideas.

What’s Happening Oct. 15 – 22

Vashon Repertory Theatre takes to the airwaves, yoga at the senior center, and more.

Pet Protectors present ‘Quarantiniest Fur Ball Ever’

The fundraiser will be online throughout Oct. 24, with numerous objects, services and experiences up for bid.

Our Town: Clay was in the stars for Jane Neubauer

We hear from ceramic artist Jane Neubauer about how she has found fulfillment in working with clay.

What’s Happening Oct. 8 – 15

Band with local tie offers new video, a lecture at VCA is rescheduled, and more.

Meet our farmers: Lotus, in her backyard wonderland

“The ecology of how it all works together fascinates and inspires me.”

For local theater artists, the show must go on

A new company, Vashon Repertory Theatre, will launch with a set of seven short radio plays.

For some local artists, local auction is a 43-year tradition

VCA’s gala fundraising auction is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25.

What’s Happening Sept. 10 – 17

Drive the red carpet at Open Space, Passport2Pain switches gears, Rotary plans a benefit, and more.

A night at the drive-in is for the birds

Two programs, both Vashon bird-centric, will be shown on the big screen on Tuesday.

Original dance works find a place in the sun

Four pieces slated to take the stage at the Vashon Center for Dance have been reworked for video.

At Subway, a family perseveres to live their dream

In this ongoing series, we hear from island restaurateurs about how they are faring in the pandemic.