Joyce Michaud

What brought you to Hood College?

I was hired as an adjunct instructor in January 1994 to build a ceramic arts program at Hood College.

What do you value most about your relationship with students?

Eagerness and energy, fresh ideas and willingness to explore and learn. The challenges posed by their questions. Their fresh ideas and approaches to problem solving. The knowledge gained from their insight, which spurs me to continue my explorations. Being a part of students’ growth and development as they become confident adults.

Why is teaching your dream job?

Teaching provides a means to share the knowledge gained from a lifetime of research. Sharing experiential knowledge and skills will shorten the time spent learning for my students. Building upon my knowledge and that of my teachers, graduates will move to greater heights within their lifetimes and pass on to future generations what they have learned and what they have dreamed.

If you were to consider another career, what would you consider and why?

Full-time studio artist, the career that lead me to teaching. Creating is my core, my essence, my passion. Creating is not a choice, it is an integral part of my psyche, an uncontrollable inner force.

Describe your approach to teaching?

The degree in education that my parents insisted must accompany my art degree has provided an understanding of the learning process, which requires all of the senses and a minimum of four experiences to master a concept. My courses are a combination of research/reading, lecture, demonstration and hands-on experiences. We must think it, hear it, see it, do it to gain conceptual understanding. The why is more important than the how. If we know how and something changes, we are lost. But if we know why we can figure out how because we understand the concept. Conceptual knowledge stimulates free and creative thought.

What is/are your most memorable moment/s at Hood?

Seventeen years of memories are hard to cull into memorable moments. The first senior exhibitions of the newly reinstated studio arts concentration. The first graduate certificate exhibitions. The first MFA thesis defense. The second MFA thesis defense. The faces of the many studio art seniors and ceramic arts graduate students as they speak with pride about their exhibition work. The energy with which a group of graduate students designed, built and fired the kiln they dubbed the Kentucky cross draft and the excitement and pride during the unloading when they realized it really worked! The joy each time that kiln is fired and unloaded to equally great results!

Describe your academic interests and research?

My research has revolved around creating with clay and, specifically, structural strength in the wheel thrown form. My fascination with East Asian wedged coil technique led me to the exploration of structural strength concepts related to hand thrown work. My personal expression is manifest in my creative work with porcelain and specifically porcelain pinch pots. This exploration led to the firing of the work in wood-fired kilns. As an itinerant wood firer, my research led to the comparisons of the variety of wood-fire kilns and the results of their firings. I am also immersed in the creation of platters and the use of porcelain slips on the surface of the high temperature clay bodies. The most recent series of work consists of classical vase forms thrown on the potter’s wheel with the same combination of high temperature clay bodies and porcelain slips fired in the wood-fired kilns.

When you aren’t working, what are you doing in your spare time?

Spare time? Not working? Studio art is not a career, it is a lifestyle! Balance arrives with sharing a beautiful meal, a long talk, a walk in the country, travel to see an amazing exhibition but especially visiting my children, who are my greatest creations and amazing professionals making their contribution to the world.

Name three books that you would recommend everyone read:

Recommendations for everyone is a tall order. Here are a few, but maybe not for everyone:

“The Measure of a Man” by Sidney Poitier
“Interaction of Color” by Josef Albers
“Everyday Sacred” by Sue Bender
“Art and Fear” by David Bayles
And of course Harry Potter, for his struggle to accept that he is/was loved and the strength to stand up to the forces of evil, control and abuse, and to do what is needed no matter the personal costs. But mainly because an incredibly creative single mother took care of her kids and, with them in mind, fabricated these incredible adventures and met with such amazing success.

If you would like to contact Professor Michaud, you can e-mail her at