LAMS students glaze their ceramic pieces. Photo by Pamela Messer
A student’s work of art. Photo by Pamela Messer
Earlier in the school year, Santa Fe artist Pamela Messer visited Los Alamos Middle School on several occasions to work with the students and teachers on creating ceramic masterpieces. These visits were made possible in great part by a $1,500 grant from the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation. The students learned to make, glaze and fire ceramic pieces, and the teachers used the experience to assess the possibility of installing a new kiln at the Middle School.
Roughly 125 7th and 8th grade students benefitted from the ceramics classes taught by Messer. During the first session, they worked with the clay to create cups, bowls, trays and other pots. In subsequent sessions, the students decorated their pieces with glaze, and then finally the pieces were fired in a kiln at Messer’s studio. It was a new experience for some of the students who had never before had a chance to work with clay. For others, it was a chance to learn new ways of working with clay. One of the students commented, “I enjoyed using the clay tools and learning new techniques.”
Creative Arts teacher Elizabeth Fisher and Fine Arts/Crafts teacher Laura Parkinson worked with the students and Messer during the six classes. In their grant proposal, the teachers cited that in order for them to provide a curriculum covering all of the required standards and techniques, it is really important for students to be able to work with guest artists.
In a note to the Foundation, Fisher said, “I want to send a sincere thank you to the Foundation for the grant that was donated to Los Alamos Middle School and students. The Los Alamos Middle School in the past has been not able to afford to pay guest artists from our local community to come into the classroom and share their expertise. This grant allowed for a guest artist to come to the school and work with the students.” Fisher added that she is working with other teachers and staff to install a kiln in the art room next year.
Messer is a Santa Fe artist whose work primarily consists of colorfully glazed platters, ceramic jewelry, tile murals and many one-of-a-kind pieces that have a painterly look. She divides her time between her Santa Fe studio and various programs at local public schools and ceramic centers. Messer feels that her ceramic pieces have become clearer and have a stronger design since she started using her paintings as a reference. According to Messer’s website, “Painting makes me appreciate the beauty and enormous variety of the New Mexico landscape. The more I look, the greater color variations I see.”
The Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation is an independent organization that supports, challenges, and invests in a successful future for all Los Alamos public school students. Since its inception in 2005, the LAPS Foundation has donated more than $1 million to fund opportunities and materials for students, provide professional development for district educators, defray operating expenses, and assist with capital improvements to enrich learning environments in the Los Alamos public schools. The Foundation raises money through generous contributions from individuals and organizations who share the Foundation’s core values that excellent public education is every child’s right, and that excellent public education systems depend on: a well-informed and supportive community, caring and competent educators, a supportive and responsive school environment, and sufficient financing to achieve educational goals. To learn more about the LAPS Foundation and how to get involved and/or make a donation, visit www.lapsfoundation.com or call 505.500.6501.