Finding a Balance


By Alan Lee, Creative Writing, 12th grade

To someone unfamiliar with the Idyllwild Arts Ceramics Studio, its creaky exterior floorboards and unusual front door carved out of one of the building’s walls may appear daunting at first. What the studio holds inside, however, are resources that many ceramics artists would kill to have access to. For Visual Arts faculty member Jasmine Peck, the studio is a godsend.

“This facility is a lot to keep up with for one person,” Jasmine says over the blare of a heating vent gone rogue. “But having this space that allows me to teach and to also make my own work is really important.”

The South Dakota native spent her high school years trying her hand in a variety of art forms. But after leaving the Black Hills for the University of Wyoming, she found ceramics to be her calling. She earned a BFA in Ceramics there, and then an MFA in Ceramics at the University of Minnesota.

“The last ten years of my life have basically been completely dedicated to ceramics. I like to think that it chose me.”

She also had a growing fascination with teaching, and decided that the two interests could complement one another. This is one of many factors that led her to teach at Idyllwild Arts Academy—including the fact that her partner, Chris Groth, teaches sculpture here.

“What other job could I have that would allow me to also work on what I want? I love ceramics so much and I’m happy to give that gift to other people.”

The classes she teaches at the Academy focus on different techniques related to hand- and wheel-throwing. Her Advanced Ceramics course has proven to be an especially enriching and challenging experience for her and her students.

“It’s been a struggle to find a balance between giving them structure and freedom, so I try to give my assignments with both in mind. It’s important for the advanced students to take ownership of their own work and to feel like they’re diving into their own ideas more.”

When asked if this struggle has carried over to her own artistic practice, Jasmine explains that she has been able to find some time to work on her own. With a deadline imposed by an upcoming exhibition, it’s been necessary to find time to work.

“Having a deadline really does help, though,” she says enthusiastically.

As we get ready to part ways, I joke that my story requires her to conclude with some words of wisdom for fledgling artists.

“If you really want to do it enough, then you just find a way to it.”

She pauses to sip from her strawberry smoothie. Seemingly on cue, the heating vent falls silent.

“That’s easier said than done, but it can happen.”