Meet Elaine

I’m hanging out with my friend Elaine Quave at NCECA this year.  Check out her work.  Her MFA thesis exhibition was one of the most thought-provoking, detailed, and sensitive installations I’ve ever seen – and I only have a slight bias.  See, I’ve known Elaine since she was seventeen… and now, this year, we’re teaching colleagues.

Elaine was a student at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities (SCGSAH) when I worked there for a year, in 2000-2001.  The fact that this school ever existed and still exists is beyond remarkable.  It’s a residential public high school for the creative and performing arts.  That means that South Carolina’s students, once accepted, do not pay tuition to live in a dorm and “study their art in a supportive environment of artistic and academic excellence.”  According to the program’s website, “The nine-month residential high school is modeled after a master-apprentice community with an arts faculty who are all practicing artists, as well as educators in their areas of expertise. In addition to rigorous pre-professional arts training, students receive an intense and innovative academic education that fosters connections to the arts while meeting all the requirements necessary for a South Carolina high school diploma.”  I can vouch for it – all of this is true, and even better than it sounds.

Elaine went on for a BFA from The University of the Arts (where Kevin Bogan is currently studying, and where Shannon Henry – ‘Shannon Queen of the Universe’ earned her degree) – and then an MFA from Tyler School of Art (where Ryan Wheeler is currently studying, and where Bethany Rusen, who helped us out so much with Empty Bowls this year, also earned her MFA).  (Not sure what BFA and MFA stand for?)

Catching up with Elaine over dinner tonight, we talked a lot about teaching – because now, Elaine teaches ceramics at SCGSAH.  The school is fairly young – it opened in 1999 – and she’s the first teaching alumnus!  At SCGSAH, students follow a progressive curriculum in the arts with high performance and production expectations.  Students live on-site and are expected to keep rigorous studio hours.  This is Elaine’s first year of teaching there, and her challenges are very different than what I face… but there are still challenges, like in any school.  She’s doing an amazing job – three of her students have work in the National K12 Ceramics Exhibition – and she is head-over-heels in love with teaching and with her students.

I’m just somewhat in shock that I’ve been involved in education long enough to have former students who are teaching at the high school level.  I hope that Elaine is just the first of many on such a list, as my hair gets grayer!



8 thoughts on “Meet Elaine

  1. You’ve gotta feel awesome that you inspired a person this much! And also the whole body thing is weird, but really well made its ridiculous.

    • Yeah, Elaine is great. I’m bringing home a few of her pots for us to admire.

      Side note, her husband proposed to her at an iron pour. As in, he spelled out, “Will you marry me?” in hot, liquid metal. There’s a video out there. Thought you’d appreciate this…

  2. Sounds like a pretty awesome school! I would not mind spending extra hours in the studio during the school day (chemistry or ceramics? hmm…tough choice). The intricate details on Elaine’s pieces are very interesting, and the method she used is something I would be interested in learning.

    • I’m thinking that I’d like to bring her up for a workshop next year.

      The school is a pretty amazing concept – but not an easy one.
      Consider that it’s state funded. Students accepted to this program, and to the Science & Math program in SC, don’t pay tuition.

      So – South Carolina’s taxpayers are investing in sending a small, selected group of high school students to a residential school, on a beautiful campus – with a budget of over $4 million annually. Consider some of the issues facing South Carolina’s public schools….

      What do you think?

  3. I pictured this school that with the super long initialized name (NSBJFKSKDLFJS) as a trade school. When I read the 9 month program I pictured them all in a mechanic shop but instead of fixing a car, they were painting it. Its amazing how our world is really trying to do all we can to make our own people happy at something they want to do. Not much analysis with this comment just a wierd imagination that i get from time to time.

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