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Get to Know the Visual Arts Faculty: Ellen Kahan

We want to introduce you to the Visual Arts Faculty. 

Enjoy this peak into who makes the great Art Department at BFS!

Ellen with Student from Tanzania
1. What classes do you teach?

I teach 5th-10th grade ceramics in Middle and Upper Schools.

2. Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I studied in Mexico City and Alfred University.

3. What events led to you becoming an art teacher and/or choosing to teach art to kids? 
I love the material so much, and I don’t like working in my ceramics studio alone. Working with students is a way to be with others as well as displaying my passion for clay with them.
4.  What interests you in your own artistic practice?
My favorite method of clay making is working on the wheel. Centering the clay is meditative and energizing at the same time. I never get tired with the repetition.

5. Who or what have been your biggest influences in life?

I apprenticed with two very well known ceramic artists, and I was thrilled that they let me work with them.  One was Bernard Leach, a British artist who lived in St.Ives, England. I worked with him when I was 20 for 3 months. The other one was Lucy Ris, an Austrian ceramicist who was a friend and a contemporary of Bernard Leach, who introduced me to her when my apprenticeship was finished. I then worked with her for two months.

7. Tell us a non-art-teacher talent that you have?
I
was an excellent basketball player and traveled with the Harlem
Globetrotters for a couple of summers because my father worked with them
as their publicity director.

8. What does a day off look like for you?

I work in my studio and fire pieces in my “raku” kiln in the backyard.
I do laundry.  I do my 5 mile walk around the park near my home in New Jersey.
9. What is your favorite lesson/project/concept that you like to teach?

One of my favorite projects is to take upper school students who never worked on the wheel and have them produce a dinnerware set between the months of September to May.

10. What do you love about teaching art at BFS?

I love the talent and enthusiasm of the entire Visual Arts faculty. I also enjoy the complete support of the students I teach, their parents, and the administration. It is a fun and stimulating place to work in five days a week.

Bonus! if you were stuck on a dessert
island, what 3 things would you bring?

Tons of clay, books books and books, a bathing suit and sunblock.