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Community Spotlight: Nicole Fall

Clayworks is excited to share a new “Community Spotlight” series of written blog posts by members of our community. During this period of isolation, we hope these posts can spread joy, introduce you to some of the people that make Clayworks amazing, and help you #claypositive. We are kicking off this series with members of our staff – next up is Nicole Fall, Baltimore Clayworks’ Community Arts and BCYF Grant Manager.

“I come from a family of artists; my grandmother, my mother, an aunt, an uncle, and one of my sisters were or are artists. Now my spouse and my grown children are artists as well. I consider myself a sculptor. I created and sold my first sculpture when I was 13 years old – this made something of an impression on me. It was an “I can do this!” moment.

I majored in ceramics at MICA where I made sculpture that was influenced by nature and undersea imagery which was then used to explore the human condition. The department at that time consisted of professors; Doug Baldwin, Ron Lang, and Lois Hennessey; conceptually and technically strong hand-builders. Their teaching was premised in the attitude that you will come up with an idea and then figure out technically how to make it happen. They encouraged big ideas so I made a clay sculpture that was about 7 feet tall before I graduated.

Doug Baldwin brought us seniors to Baltimore Clayworks in 1981, pretty soon after it had opened. He wanted us to see options for continuing to work once we graduated.

Upon graduating, I set up my own studio in every basement (and one living room), of every house I lived in. I was making very thin, fragile clay objects. It was frustrating to endure so much breakage, I wanted to build bigger, AND teach college…  SO, I went to graduate school and learned how to weld steel. Since then I often combine steel with clay. It makes it possible to build things that are weightless-seeming, tall (25 feet so far), with the primordial substance of clay.

I have managed Community Arts twice at Clayworks; in 2000 and again in 2018. It combines my experience as an arts educator and artist with the activism of enhancing access to the arts for all. I very much enjoy the challenge of making clay programming happen in as many spaces as possible in Baltimore. Because of the pandemic we are currently working on how we can deliver programming in a time of quarantine where we cannot have direct contact with the youth we work with.

This time of Covid 19 has been challenging personally. A relative has come to stay with us for the time being and she has Alzheimers. Our time is structured by her needs and like, when we were raising children, we have rediscovered artmaking with interruptions. I have also managed to rediscover solitude and plan on bringing more of that back into my life.  I hope and wish everyone is managing well.”

-Nicole Fall

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