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"A Letter to Charles Evered" Written by Chani Dawson, former resident

Dear Charles,

Thank you for the opportunity to be your January Artist in Residence. Since my residency ended, I’ve had time to reflect on how my experience at the Evered House has influenced my art. The most important change I’ve experienced is greater confidence in my skills. The House offers no excuses or distractions when it comes to focusing. I worked relentlessly, finding a comfort and ease with the clay that was previously unknown. The second change I experienced was one of finding a new voice, style, and signature in my forms. The untimely demise of my firefly stamp during my first week led to a greater infusion of my Jewish identity into my work, producing unique four stranded ware that I am still exploring. Lastly, the technical work of placing, building, and firing the raku kiln on the property has been an incredible learning experience. I am incredibly grateful for the introduction to MazAmar Studio and its co-owner, Thomas Alban for his time, support, and expertise in the first firing of the kiln. Understanding how a firing works is essential for a ceramic artist and created a full bodied experience.

After my return to San Diego, I find myself less self-conscious when I am at work in the shared space of San Diego State’s ceramic studio. There is a friendship between the clay and I forged at the Evered House that I didn’t know was missing until it was found. The Evered House, the desert, and the art community that dwells there weaves a seductive spell that is difficult to shake off. I have no words that can express the gratitude for personal and artistic evolution I experienced at the House. I simply know that I feel a driving need to stay connected with the program in any capacity that I can.

Thank you for this opportunity. The words veterans and artist are so rarely put together they seem like an oxymoron. So often, veterans who venture into the arts are at a disadvantage due to both their age and biased stereotypes of veterans having values incompatible with artistic expression. I still struggle with enculturated thinking that demands perfection and uniformity in my work. The Evered House is unique in its specific nurturing of artists who often feel marginalized by other artists. In addition to providing solitude to hone our craft, the Evered House also offers a chance to reflect upon our dual identities as artists who happen to also be veterans.


Chani Dawson

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