The teenaged years are a time when many people find out about themselves: what they like, who they want to hang around, what they want to do.

Aaris Williams embraces art because it fosters this process.

Aaris Williams

Aaris Williams

“I’m just trying to figure out something about myself,” the Brookfield High School junior said at the Hope Center for Arts and Technology, Sharon, where she is learning how to make pottery.

“I feel that art actually helps you learn a lot about the world and about yourself,” she said. “Emotions are really tied into art.”

Pottery stimulates the two sides of feeling, the tactile experience of handling clay and forming it into an object, and the emotional experience of tapping into one’s thoughts and hopes, Aaris said.

Dominique Brown, Heaven O'Donnell

Dominique Brown, Heaven O’Donnell

“It’s all about feeling,” she said.

Aaris is one of the Brookfield girls who attended HopeCAT after school two days a week to work with instructors Christian Kuharik and Justin Reese. The classes are free.

“It’s a big stress reliever,” said Rebecca Oliver, a sophomore. “It’s mesmerizing. It takes your mind off everything that’s going on.”

“It’s really relaxing,” said Heaven O’Donnell, a sophomore. “It’s kind of like fishing.”

Rhyan Ramirez

Rhyan Ramirez

Most of the girls had no experience with pottery, but did with other arts.

“It’s totally different, but you put the same amount of concentration into it,” Heaven said in comparing making pottery to drawing and painting.

Junior Rhyan Ramirez said she enjoys learning about different cultures through the designs and techniques they use to make pottery.

Riley Brantley

Riley Brantley

“I like that we’re with other schools,” said freshman Riley Brantley, noting that Brookfield and West Middlesex students share class time.

“I literally knew no one outside of Brookfield,” she said.

Sophomore Dominique Brown said she wanted to do something she had never done before.

“I thought it was going to be hard, but it’s easy,” she said.

Rhyan had a different take on making pottery.

“It’s very hard,” she said. “It takes a lot of work and effort to get good. I am proud of the things I have made, though, so that’s good.”

The students showed their work in a public exhibition May 3, which closed the term at HopeCAT, and have the opportunity to return next year. Many will be making a trip to Yellowstone National Park this June as part of the HopeCAT program.


Top photo shows Heaven O’Donnell, left, and Rebecca Oliver. See photos of the students and their finished work in a May 4 post.