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Shea Hansen '09

From Tiles to Tomatoes

After years of stashing her talent for ceramics away in the ‘hobby’ category, Shea Hansen came to Green Mountain College and found her niche as an artist and teacher. She credits Prof. Karen Swyler with noticing her potential and giving her the confidence to weave a life out of her passion for art, teaching and farming.

After some growing pains her first year at GMC, Shea says she buckled down as a sophomore and studied hard. Karen saw her student’s dedication, and offered Shea a work study position – a vote of confidence that “changed everything,” Shea says.

Shea soon found herself running the college’s ceramics studio and helping out as a research assistant – both jobs that allowed her to take on leadership roles. Now, she regularly travels to regional schools to teach ceramics workshops and lead demonstrations.

“It’s great to be in charge of something,” says Shea, who will graduate with a BFA and an art education certification.

Her own work centers on function – pitchers, pots, tiles and plates are just some of the pieces she creates. Her senior show, although still in its formative stages, will likely focus on tiles, a form that allows for flexibility when deciding how to use the piece.

“Every one has a million possibilities,” Shea says. “I want people to be interacting with my work. I don’t want it sitting on a shelf.”

Outside of school, she tends to the tomatoes at Dutchess Farm in Castleton and finds herself inspired by the colors of the garden and the feel of the soil in much the same way she gets a thrill out of working with clay in the studio.

“I consider myself a farmer and an artist,” she says. “You can look at farming as an art form.”

After finishing up her student teaching, Shea plans to pursue a career as an art educator –ideally at a progressive private school. But any career that allows her to create art, and help others appreciate art, will make her happy.

“Even just mushing clay between my fingers will satisfy me all day,” she laughs. “I really enjoy what I do.”

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