Sandburg student finds hidden talent in ceramics

March 28, 2016

Evan Flaherty poses with his handmade mug while he sells some of his other ceramic mugs and vases in the commons.

Evan Flaherty poses with his handmade mug while he sells some of his other ceramic mugs and vases in the commons.

Photo by Mr. McCabe

Photo by Mr. McCabe

Evan Flaherty poses with his handmade mug while he sells some of his other ceramic mugs and vases in the commons.

“If you want to express your artistic value in the most fun way possible, ceramics is for you,” Evan said as an advertisement of Ceramics class. Now, some of you may be thinking, “Why should I care? He’s clearly talented and I don’t have the time for art!” At Sandburg, you can enter a whole new world when you register for an art class, which you can take as an elective or with a zero hour class.

Evan is just another student, like you, who was interested in taking one of the many art classes available. He wanted to take Sculpture, thinking it might be the class that he would be most interested in because he had minimal art experience. Sadly, someone suggested he take Ceramics due to the unavailability of Sculpture.

“I wasn’t too excited about taking Ceramics, because I thought that’s just what old ladies do as a hobby,” said Flaherty.

Undeterred by his perceptions, Evan still enrolled in a class he thought would be full of old souls. He prepared his gravestone by carving in, “Died of Boredom.”

He soon got rid of it, saying, “Mr. McCabe made it fun, which made it fun for me. That resulted in me really really liking it. If you’re just excited about something, it makes it more fun.”

He fell in love with clay. To summarize ceramics in a few words, Evan said, “fantastic, love.” He dove into his “old lady” hobby, working hard with clay. Evan took ceramics his sophomore year and continued with clay his first semester of junior year, taking Advanced Ceramics. He kept exceeding his limits.

Mr. McCabe is the ceramics teacher that taught Evan everything he knows. From his mugs to his bowls to glazing his pots, McCabe shares his passion with the students at Sandburg by teaching them his skills.

“For somebody to love ceramics, if they don’t love it when they walk in, they’ll love it when they finally get their hands on the clay,” said McCabe.

Ceramics is a step-by-step process that shows you how to really be creative, because you’re shaping clay into anything you can possibly imagine.

“Evan has clearly some amazing skills, but I don’t think it’s above what anybody else can do,” said McCabe.

Evan Flaherty works diligently on one of his vases.

The real question is, why does Evan keep going? What makes ceramics stick out so much?
“The most exciting part of ceramics is seeing it go from a ball of clay to something you can use,” said Flaherty.

Take a moment to think about all of the things around you that are made of ceramic. The familiar mug you use to drink coffee with every morning, the flower pots that have nurtured your mother’s indoor jungle, the mosaic tiles you walk around on in the kitchen, and the fancy dishes you carefully save for only special guests can all be made from ceramic. These are all things that can be taught to be made in ceramics class. Ceramics class is making nothing into something, and that’s what made Flaherty try to become the best at it.

“He’s a super exciting student to have and he works really hard. I think whenever I have a conversation with him, he truly hears what I am saying and takes my advice. Whether he implements it or chooses not to, either way I know he makes that choice and he hears it and that’s exciting to hear as a teacher,” said Mr. McCabe.

As he became an exceptional artist in training, Mr. McCabe gave Evan the news that he will be selling some of his work, his mugs.

“[Selling mugs] was out of nowhere. It showed me the business side of art, like how to interact with people,” said Flaherty.

From this experience, he got glimpse of the potential of becoming a ceramics artist.
“His work is of a sellable quality right now, and it could be of an exceptional quality [if he keeps working hard],” said Mr. McCabe.

However, Evan is still unsure, as he says, “Art’s definitely an option for me. I’m far from being a great artist. If I really wanted to make it work, I need to start working hard at it. I would need to start setting deadlines, focusing in class rather than doing my own thing.”

His experience as a talented artist at Sandburg has opened options that he couldn’t imagine in the past. Evan isn’t gifted with some divine talent of shaping clay. He practices working with clay almost daily. His humble goal is just to become better than he is already. Evan is an example that with a little bit of hard work and persistence, anyone can learn and excel at the arts. His journey as an artist all started when he opened the door to room N110 on that very first day, not knowing he was going to turn that same knob for the next few years.

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