Today we’d like to introduce you to Carrie Evans.
Hi Carrie, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
I was born (in 1977) and raised in Saint Louis. I was catholic, so Rosary High school, and then Fontbonne University for my BFA and MFA. I always knew I wanted to be an artist, but it wasn’t until high school, and having Ms. S. Harris as an Art teacher, did I realize that this was exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I had entered college as a painting major, but in the Fall of 1998, I was required to have a least one ceramic class for my education degree. The day I sat down at the wheel for the first time, I knew I had to change my concentration. It felt natural to me, I struggled, don’t get me wrong, but this seemed to fit my personality more than painting. My professor was Cat Conner-Talasek, and she was an amazing woman! She was the reason I wanted to continue with my education at Fontbonne. Most people go somewhere else for their second degree, but I wanted to remain her student until I couldn’t; in 2000, I graduated with my BFA in Art Education-certification K-12, with a concentration in ceramics, and in 2002 with my MFA in Ceramics. I struggled after graduation; ceramics is an expensive medium, but I had built a very supportive art community around me, and they helped me get going in the right direction. Before I knew it, I worked at Monarch in Maplewood as a hostess. The Monarch was the place to be in 2005/06.
Through this job, I joined a dynamic St Louis group called ArtDimensions from there. I was showing in the Monarch gallery in a two-person show and helped in any way I could on their board of directors. During this time at Monarch, I met a wonderful man I call my husband. (Jason Evans) He eventually became the executive Chef at Jive and Wail, Monarch’s sister restaurant across the street. We were married in 2007 and welcomed a baby girl in 2008. We lived in a small city bungalow on Arsenal, and I did everything I could to keep going with making art.
My studio was in the coal cellar, it was small, but it worked! In 2010 we welcomed a baby boy, and our house started getting smaller. In 2013, my husband was offered the position of Executive Chef in Cape Girardeau, MO, and off we went on a new family adventure. I also began working as the Middle School (5th & 6th grade) Art teacher in Cape Girardeau’s district. This last school year (21-22) was my ninth year with the district and also my last. I decided to return to my roots and take time again to make art. I now have a fully functioning studio with 2 kilns and a wheel in my basement, Earth and Stone Pottery. I have come a long way since my coal closet. I have tried for years to enter as many fairs and shows as possible in St Louis, but being a mother and teacher were my full-time jobs. One show in St Louis that always has me coming back is the “Let Them Eat Art” show in Maplewood. This is a special show for me and my husband as well. My goal in the next 5 years is to get back home and once again be part of the STL art scene. I miss my family and all the history that St Louis has to offer.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It was not a smooth road. My dad died 9 days before my undergraduate graduation, leaving my mom a widow at 49. My brother and I watched her do everything she could to keep it together and get him through college. As a new family, we had ups and downs and struggles of all kinds, but my art is what always got me through everything.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
My goal in my career was to be the best Art teacher I could be and have at least one student in each class that walked away feeling their best with the work they produced in my class. I have taught Montessori to college-aged students; my most memorable teaching time was at St. Charles Community College (5 years). I will have lifelong friendships with some of the students I taught. I even had one student go on to be published in Ceramics International magazine afterward. This is the stuff that makes my heart smile! I worked with the St. Louis juvenile detention system at one point during grad school and taught art on the weekends. That was a heart-wrenching job! I even taught out at the Daniel Boone home through Lindenwood University. One of the things I focused on in grad school was Native American Art. My professor had spent many months out west learning new ceramic techniques and bringing them back to us. I was immediately in love. So, throughout my career, I have tried to pull that knowledge into every environment I have taught. So many different parts of my life play a role in where my Artwork comes from. During undergrad, I also was required to take a Fibers class. This was life-changing for me. To this day, I still incorporate various natural objects into my work. During the postgrad, all my work was 1/2 ceramic 1/2 fibers, using my Native American techniques and objects I had found in nature. The world around me has been my biggest influence. Traveling and experiencing this beautiful country has led me to some of my most creative work.
Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
During grad school, my mentor was a studio mate with several more years in the clay world than I did. I don’t think he thought of himself as a mentor, but he was. After graduation, I did everything I could to reach out to people. That is what lead me to my job at Monarch. I have a difficult time with networking. I don’t look at it as rubbing elbows with people. I look at it as making friends. What I have to say about networking is just put yourself out there as much as possible. You never know who will be looking for someone like you!
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/EarthAndStonePottery
(Booth display picture) Anastasia Swan Photography