Jonesborough’s McKinney Center offers pottery and ceramics classes

Students Diana Dalton, Alexandria Goss and instructor Pam Daniels.

Students Diana Dalton, Alexandria Goss and instructor Pam Daniels.

The McKinney Center in Jonesborough is establishing itself as an artistic hub for those wanting to learn and become more skilled at creating hand-crafted and wheel-thrown ceramic and pottery pieces. The classes are among the most popular offered at the center and, in the past, many students found themselves on waiting lists, wanting to work with the talented instructor-artists.

Recognizing the demand, McKinney Center director, Theresa Hammons has added more classes and brought in more artist-teachers for the 2017 season. Beginning with the spring classes, starting at the end of January, several new ceramics and pottery courses will be offered in addition to the already popular Earthen Art and Wheel Series classes.

“The popularity of the classes has a great deal to do with the faculty members we hire. They are among the very best artists and teachers in the region, with impressive qualifications,” Hammons stated.  “That’s unusual for an art center of our small size, but we pride ourselves on the quality of arts education we provide. Our goal is to be the premier place for arts education in the region.”

Every pottery and ceramics teacher who is a faculty member of Jonesborough’s Mary B. Martin Program for the Arts at the McKinney Center has had their own work shown in major regional exhibits and large regional festivals.

Jess Parks, new to the faculty, will teach the Potter’s Wheel series, levels one and two. This class combines forms thrown on the potter’s wheel with other clay forming techniques to create more complex pieces. Lidded vessels, closed forms, large platters, ring jugs, vase forms and ore will be explored.

Parks will also teach Hand-Building with Clay. This beginner class is for those interested in developing basic clay hand-building skills while creating beautiful glaze-fired pieces of art. No experience is necessary and Parks will work with students at their own pace.

Instructor Jess Parks, Myla Lewis, and Owen Hoover.

Instructor Jess Parks, Myla Lewis, and Owen Hoover.

Parks’ own wheel thrown and hand-built work has been showcased at the Women’s Fund Art Show, Fine Art in the Park, and more. Parks acquired a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2012. Her main focus is on pottery and mixed media and uses high-fire stoneware and porcelain clay to make functional pottery pieces and fine art mixed media.

Kerry Porche, also new to the faculty this season, will teach Functional Pottery 101, which allows students to learn the basics of wheel throwing with clay. Students will make cups, bowls, and other useful household items, focusing on basic pottery forms, techniques, and functions.

Porche is a functional potter based in Erwin where he opened his studio in 2010. He holds an MFA in painting and drawing from Ohio University and has attended sessions at Penland School of Crafts.

Kara Bledsoe returns for the third year to teach the children’s pottery wheel and hand building classes. Bledsoe holds an BFA with a concentration in ceramics from ETSU. She spent several years teaching in the after-school arts program with Johnson City Arts Corps. A working artist, Bledsoe teaches ceramics to adults as well and young people. Her work includes pottery wheel, hand-building, extruded work, and slab building. She has had a solo art exhibit with the Johnson City Area Arts Council, as well as several group art exhibits throughout the region. She was also a member of TACA. She has been with the McKinney Center art faculty since 2014.

Students enjoy working in clay. From the left, are: Autumn Sims, Shanaya Hoffman and Emma Grace Johnson.

Students enjoy working in clay. From the left, are: Autumn Sims, Shanaya Hoffman and Emma Grace Johnson.

Veteran faculty member and Earthen Art teacher, Pamela Daniels, established the popular Earthen Art class, which has always been the first class to fill to capacity at the center.

Pam has a love for color, for unique handmade things created from the heart and loves to share that experience with others.  Being able to express herself through different mediums has become a passion she feels is God given.  She studied under a local master potter, Ed Lockett, who’s encouragement was all that she needed to move forward into the world of beautiful dirt – clay.

Pam says, “Beautiful dirt allows me the opportunity to say what only my hands can express. What a joy, what a peace, what a blessing!”

“We feel like we have the best teachers in the region, and the most diverse offerings of any art center around.”  Hammons says, stressing that while ceramics has grown this year, so have many other areas. The McKinney Center is currently offering classes for all ages in painting, drawing, dance, theater, film, music, and more. The McKinney Center will also be adding a series of one-day workshops throughout the spring, in glass fusion, painting, and other media.

Registration for these classes continues through January 21. Registration forms are available at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough on 103 Franklin Avenue and can be found online along with the full catalog of classes on the Town of Jonesborough website at: 

For more information, email McKinney Center director Theresa Hammons at: or call (423) 753-0562.


About Author

Comments are closed.