Ceramics artist Ravenna Nelson imbues her art with past experiences
Catherine Brown, Reporter & Photo Editor
From working with locals artists to commissioning her work online, senior Ravenna Nelson has excelled in the world of ceramics. With the help of many mentors and friends, both in and out of school, Nelson has been able to follow her passion for art, and learn more about herself in the process.
Nelson is currently a senior at the high school. She has lived on Vashon her entire life, and has been a student in the district since kindergarten.
During Nelson’s time at Chautauqua, a local artist visited her art class to teach an artist-in-residence course.
“We made birds with Liz Lewis when I was in third grade, and since then, clay has always interested me in its ability to be functional and appealing to the eye,” Nelson said.
Nelson sees all mediums of art being a fun and creative hobby, but has always been most attracted to ceramics.
“I felt [ceramics] was something that I was kind of good at from [a young age],” she said. “Even my loon we made in third grade. I was like, ‘This is cool, I didn’t know you can take mud and turn it into something.’”
Nelson has been mentored throughout her pottery journey by high school art teacher Kristen Dallum.
“Having Ravenna as a student is a total joy and inspiration,” Dallum said. “She is not only super talented at the technical skills of working with clay, [but] she is also always willing to learn new techniques and put in the time and effort to [figure] them out.”
Nelson is not only a standout artist, but is also a role model for other students in her classes.
“Ravenna sets a really good example for both myself and everyone in [the] room about how to pursue her own path, [and she does] it in a way that allows this space to work well with the hundreds of people that come in here,” Dallum said. “It’s really fun to watch her devote the time and energy to making her work better and better every day.”
Nelson has learned about ceramics from a variety of places.
“The reason I know so much [is because] … I’ve sought out other places other than the school,” Nelson said. “But it’s also just patience and knowing the little things of what to do.”
Nelson gravitates towards making more practical items.
“I like making mugs, functional stuff, pretty things people use on a daily basis,” Nelson said.
After her first art show at the Vashon Center for the Arts, Nelson has delved into selling her work.
“I started an Instagram account and sold some stuff in an art show, [but] I don’t have a business,” Nelson said.
Regardless of her pursuit of profit, Nelson is inspired by art for its personal meaning, and how it has helped her discover herself.
“This is something I really enjoy doing,” Nelson said. “This is something that makes me who I am.”