In November 2018, inspired by his shots of a recent boating trip to Ecor Rouge, our Academy Director Reanna Watson reached out to Zach Sierke, a local potter and long time instructor with ESAC, to begin discussing the possibility of an excursion based workshop: A Wild Clay Expedition. Reanna recalls, “As children, my brother and I explored Steadman’s Landing, Fly Creek, and the beaches of Montrose, celebrating the sensation of clay and sand beneath our feet and allowing our vast curiosity to overtake the little caution we possessed.”
Zach, a descendant of Homer Howard, has responded to the same coastline and creek bed with the heart of an artist, the mind of a scientist, and the obligation of a historian. His knowledge of geology and the chemistry that supports the principles of atmospheric firing, paired with his instinctual connection to the land, made Zach the perfect leader for this expedition.
Our primary goal was to utilize the unadulterated, unique environment of the Eastern Shore as an extension of our ESAC studios. Our secondary goal was to create a workshop that would appeal on a national level, attracting potters and ceramicists from around the region.
Over the next few months, we promoted the workshop at the Alabama Clay conference, through social media, and our website. Using the amazing photos of site visits and wild clay deposits from the area (photo credit: Zach Sierke and Leigh Bancroft), the workshop gained in popularity not only within the artist community, but with geologists, archaeologists, and novice explorers.