Samantha Veldhuis
BAC student

How did you arrive at the Brookline Arts Center?
I moved to Boston from New Jersey for college in 2012. I unexpectedly came upon the BAC on an exploratory adventure around the neighborhood, and upon walking in immediately appreciated the chill, unpretentious atmosphere of the space. It reminded me of the Art Center I grew up with. It took me several more years to come back though because I was unable to keep up all my hobbies through college. I rediscovered the BAC last winter when I decided too much time had passed without ceramics in my life, and I remembered how modestly accepting the space was for all types and levels of artists. I knew I’d be able to comfortably explore my ceramic interests without pretense or pressure to be more than I am as a hobbyist.

Tell us about your background. How did you become interested in art?
I do not recall a time in my life where art was not part of who I was and what I did. The value of expressing yourself and the encouragement to try anything was always ingrained in the support I felt from my parents, and I think that just naturally led to finding my ‘home’ in an artistic community. I grew up trying all forms of art, from dance and music to painting and ceramics, not to mention sports and academia, and I found enjoyment in most of it. When it came time to narrow my interests and decide on a career path, it was evident that mine lay in the overlaps of ‘all the above’. So, I chose MassArt as my college, and graphic design as my major, although I ultimately graduated with an architectural degree.

What passions do you bring to the BAC community?
If you are expressing yourself and pushing your boundaries, you are probably creating some form of beauty or art; creativity has a presence in more places than many people realize. My passions lie in that expression and pushing those boundaries of creativity. At the BAC, I can explore clay’s limits through the textures and techniques I experiment with on the pieces I throw, how I decorate or manipulate them, and in observing the techniques of the other passionate artists around me. Hopefully, the inspiration is mutual.

What do you enjoy most about the BAC?
The freedom to do what you want within the class/studio limits with not only what you make but also the schedule you dedicate to it. While I may not have decided to make my career in a traditional form of art, the BAC has renewed my ability to dabble in it as a hobby and get my hands dirty with clay again. There’s no expectation to be anything other than an artist, maker or hobbyist wanting to express themselves, grow side passions, and make some new friends along the way. I appreciate the ease of going to the BAC, and the friendly, inclusive personalities of the people who work there (special shout-out to Meagan!).

What was your favorite childhood art project?
I honestly don’t remember many of my art projects from childhood. I took art classes every year from 1st grade through college, but it was more the art I did outside of the classroom that sticks with me, the art inspired by my random imagination rather than a prompt. What comes to mind is mini snowmen made from clay dug at a beach, illustrated foods and menus for my pretend restaurant I’d force my mom and grandma to ‘eat’ at, illustrating the months of a calendar with colorful paint markers for my dad every Christmas, and willingly making many of my own greeting cards and thank you notes through adulthood. I do recall one project from 4th grade, which might be subconsciously my favorite since it sticks in my memory: it was a self-portrait of my profile, using a grid system to transfer my likeness from a printed photo to a shaded pastel drawing. I remember loving the process of the grid, the satisfaction of abstracting my face into the shapes within the squares and precisely transferring it into my portrait. It was really rewarding to step back after looking at all those little windows and seeing my profile perfectly portrayed on the page instead. This project is probably an early example of my love of process and accuracy in my art.

Who are some of your art heroes?
Since I consider myself more of a creative than an artist, I wouldn’t say I have art heroes, but I do have inspirational creative figures in my life: my Uncle, a ceramic and stoneware artist (the cat sculpture in my photo is an in-process piece of his) and whose early ceramic work is a direct link to my inspirations in textures of clay; my Aunt, his wife, who focuses not only on selling photography and watercolors but also fills her life with all forms of art, from dance to museums to food; my grandfather, who may have chosen a career in dentistry, but knew art was an important enough hobby to have a pottery studio in his basement and supported his son’s career choice of art; my mom, who in turn supported me in my decision of art school and also kept me creative throughout my childhood by finding classes and projects to fill my time; my father, the kind of guy who is good at anything he sets his mind to because he asks ‘why?’ and who made himself a career in carpentry and home additions/renovations (my foundation to end up in a career in architecture); my best friend and roommate (a fellow designer), whose constant creativity is a continuous inspiration and sets a standard to match in my own work; and my college ceramics professor, who taught me the beauty and freedom of letting clay do what it wants as you guide it into form, a process that embodies every piece I make at the BAC.

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