By Ashley Grant and Videography by Jim Altieri
Faith Formation Leadership Development contributor, Rev. Ashley Grant, traveled to Trevor Youngerberg’s pottery in Woodbridge, CT to explore the metaphor of the potter and the clay. In this video, Trevor’s discernment of call and living into that call offer a metaphor for faith formers doing the same. Part Two of a Three Part Series of Videos for exploring the Potter and the Clay as a metaphor for shaping faith. (Video 6:09)
Trevor Youngberg, a woodfire potter in Woodridge, CT and ceramics teacher, reflects on the inspiring individuals and path that have led to his vocation.
Our path of discernment involves encouragement and guidance from those significant people in our lives. For Trevor, his mother encouraged him to take his first pottery class at Bethel College in St. Paul Minnesota. While it wasn’t “love at first sight” with pottery, it was a beginning for him. Through conversations with professors and practitioners (potters) and through first-hand exploration of galleries, Trevor’s perspective broadened. He was inspired!
How did you discern your call?
Once one is “hooked,” then interest and commitment allow you to learn and grow through experiences and the guidance of teachers and mentors. For Trevor, college professors like Kirk Freeman offered a learning through show and tell; he could watch Freeman work and Freeman would answer all of his questions and share the oral tradition of creating pottery, kiln design and glaze chemistry.
There’s always more to learn. After college, Trevor sought out another local potter, Warren MacKenzie, to help him develop his own skills. Through correspondence with Mackenzy, Trevor gained new insights in the clay world. Have you ever had harsh criticism from a mentor? Mackenzies ideas would need a couple days before Trevor would have a breakthrough in understanding the value of their wisdom. And then Charlie Fach from Illinois became an invaluable influence for Trevor, stressing the importance of balancing family with his artistic passion.
These three major influences helped shape Trevor as a unique potter and teacher.
Who are your three vocational influences?
Trevor says, “my goal as a high school teacher isn’t to turn students into potters, artists or art teachers. But it is to give them some tools to go about living with after they leave my classroom. And probably the number one thing that I try to get across to my kids is the importance and usefulness of creative problem solving because that is a skill that applied to “No failures, only solutions!”any career will bring you to the next level and help you stick out above the rest...I have several students who have chosen to go on to engineering careers, but they have developed their creative in the pottery classroom, their problem solving abilities, and it helps out. I think a lot of people could use thinking directly about that message where there are no failures, only solutions; no problems, only solution.”