By Gina Malone
Brevard artist Lucy Clark had no idea when she first visited Ghost Ranch, an education and retreat center in Abiquiu, NM, what an effect it would have on her life and her art. Four years ago, she applied for and received a small Regional Artist Project Grant. Unbeknownst to her, the committee turned her portfolio over to the Hendersonville Community Foundation and she became the first recipient of the Betty Taylor Award. That provided the assistance she needed to visit Ghost Ranch.
In January she will return to the ranch as lead facilitator for the cross-cultural program there, and, in March, she will go back again to teach her first weeklong workshop—Spirit Masks: A Transformational Journey Through Micaceous Clay—as lead instructor.
Through the years of association with the 21,000-acre center where Georgia O’Keeffe painted and owned a small parcel, Clark says she has come to love Ghost Ranch—its program and all that it offers besides. “What we’re trying to do is not just immerse students in their chosen field but immerse them in the culture surrounding and involving Ghost Ranch,” she says. That culture includes both Spanish and Native American influences.
Three-and-a-half week classes in six disciplines will be offered in January. They are Introduction to Silversmithing in the Southwest Tradition; Rocks, Ruins and Dinosaur Bones for Explorers 2020; Desert Light: Digital Photography in Color and Black and White; Outdoor Adventures; The Spirit of Clay: Micaceous Pottery; and Georgia O’Keeffe, Development of a Modernist Painter Through the Lens of Ghost Ranch. One of the amazing things about the program, Clark says, is that it is open to all students at any skill level. When she attended for the first time, she met “nontraditional students that had never touched clay all the way up to students that were majoring in ceramics,” she says. “It’s amazing what these instructors can do in a short period of time and how these people, given that immersive focus, can come out with a body of work.”
Except for her initial class at Ghost Ranch in which she worked with and learned from a Pueblo potter and time with an instructor in Florida, she is largely self-taught in coil building pottery. “I didn’t want anyone to mess with my vision,” she says of the years she spent learning on her own. “I didn’t want to replicate anyone. I wanted to explore what worked where I needed to go.”
Today, though a successful potter and co-owner with Cathryn Cooper of Artists @ Work Gallery and Studio in Brevard, Clark is not resting on her laurels. “It will take the rest of my life, I feel like, to master this,” she says. “I try not to get too distracted. I seem to be a bit of a loyalist when it comes to something I resonate with, and that’s why Ghost Ranch is so wonderful—to be able to be there for an extended period of time.”