This is Sean Mitchell. He’s 12 years old, home-schooled, and the youngest person to ever take a college-level polymer clay course.
Wait … is Sean the real news or is it the fact that this past year, the first college-level credit course in polymer art was actually accepted and implemented at an accredited American institution? Well, they are both news in their own way, aren’t they? Both Sean and the class are bright lights for the future of polymer art.
The class, “Art 200: Polymer Clay” was taught at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin by Diane Levesque who was also the curator for the exhibit at the H.F. Johnson Gallery of Art at Carthage College, A Re-Visioning: New Works in Polymer. Diane presented her overview and thoughts on the course at the Polymer 2.0 Symposium along with inviting a number of students who took the class to attend the presentation and symposium that day. Sean was one of them.
At 12 years old, Sean isn’t quite of college age and is not one of those kids skyrocketed into a university education at an early age, although I have to say, after hearing his participation in our discussions and talking with him myself, I think he could have been. He’s exceedingly bright, curious and well-spoken. It was fortunate that special circumstances and the need for a creative option in his home school curriculum landed Sean the opportunity to take this class in which he excelled. He brought this sculpture to share with us. That piece alone was pretty impressive.
So, I had to ask him … “Do you see yourself continuing to work in polymer?” His answer was yes, but he did confess that he was actually interested in going into industrial engineering. So, we may lose him to another creative area, but nonetheless, Sean as well as his fellow students, were very enthusiastic about their experience with the medium, which brought up the question, “How can we introduce polymer as an art form to more of the younger generations?”
Well, we can start with the kids in our own life. I’ve had quite the year of introducing the many facets of polymer clay to the young people in my family and beyond. I now have at least one niece that seems to be inextricably addicted to it, and she introduced it to her friends as well. Word of mouth works well in spreading the love of creating as well as in business! And, of course, if we can continue to push for college-level courses and maybe even introduce it into high schools and after-school programs, polymer can continue to expand its range and the world’s view of it as art, not just hobby craft. Wouldn’t that be exciting?
If you like this blog, support The Polymer Arts projects with a subscription or issue of The Polymer Arts magazine as well as supporting our advertising partners.