Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A Beautiful Legacy

If you ask the students at the Cook Art Center what's their favorite class, many will say pottery. One reason behind that answer is because of the inspiration they receive from pottery studio manager and instructor Madeline Kaczmarczyk. 

After nine-plus years of running the Wege Foundation Pottery Studio, Madeline will soon be retiring. Over the years she has contributed in numerous ways to the Cook Arts Center, to her students, and to the Grandville neighborhood. As an instructor, Ms. Madeline, as her pupils refer to her, gives pottery students confidence, knowledge, and pride in their community. “She makes me feel good, like I can do anything, and she never lets me give up,” said Esmeralda, a student from the open pottery studio.

With infinite patience and gentle guidance, Madeline teaches children, teens, and adults alike the art of pottery. She has a way of making students feel stronger, not just in their clay abilities but in who they are. Madeline makes everyone feel comfortable and welcome and has a genuine interest in their lives.
“I have seen students thrive and learn how to freely express themselves,” said Steffanie Rosalez, Program Director of the Cook Art Center. “I have witnessed them grow not only as artists but as people with Madeline as an instructor and a mentor."

Every year for Día del Sol Madeline, with the help of her students, creates masterpieces for the silent auction. The pieces have attracted many people and donations to GAAH. The vases or bowls she makes with the students are works of art you are unlikely to find anywhere else, for they have the details of a master potter and the whimsy of a child’s hand.

Several years ago Madeline approached Executive Director Marjorie Kuipers with the idea of creating a mosaic mural at the Cook Arts Center. “As a child my father would take me to the Detroit Public Library, and I was fascinated by the ceramic tile piece that was created by Mary Stratton of Pewabic Pottery,” explained Madeline. “I wanted children in the Grandville Avenue neighborhood to find inspiration just like I did.”

A Reflection Of Us is now a permanent fixture in the lobby of the Cook Arts Center. This beautiful mosaic mural expresses the diversity of the art, the people, and the culture of the Grandville Avenue neighborhood.  “I cannot think of a more fitting legacy for Madeline,” said Kuipers. “This exquisite work of art is a tribute to her unparalleled skill as an artist and a teacher, and it will inspire children, teens, and adults for years to come.”

Madeline is an adjunct Assistant Professor of Art at Aquinas College, a position she's held for the last sixteen years. She has created pottery for over 40 years, has won numerous awards, and was even on the cover of Pottery Magazine. She is married to fellow potter Jerry Berta, has two children, and is a proud grandmother. Their children, Amy and Zach, spent a great deal of time in their parents’ clay studio. Both went on to become scientists, and Madeline credits early exposure to the arts with their ability to be creative problem-solvers in their careers.

The primary reason Madeline will be leaving the Cook Art Center is to concentrate on her own work. She often has pottery at Festival of the Arts, ArtPrize, and several summer art shows all over the state. In the meantime, Madeline is preparing her students for the transition. “I’ll miss Ms. Madeline and I’m sad she’s leaving,” said Crystal, “but I am looking forward to getting to know our new teacher.” We have Madeline to thank for instilling in her students a positive attitude about this big change at the Cook Arts Center.

                                  Family Pottery Class

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on making a big difference for this group of kids Madeline -- you and Jerry too are doing a terrific job of spreading the positive influence of the arts for young people.