We had the good fortune of connecting with Rebecca Layson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rebecca, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I would have to say I very much embrace risk and risk-taking. Honestly, I feel like my entire adult life has been me taking dumb risks over and over and over again but somehow everything working out okay in the end. Like I took forever, 7 years in total, to get through college because I was constantly changing interests, majors, and even schools all on a whim. Heck, I moved from Northwest Georgia to Atlanta 8 years ago all because I thought I wanted to study animation. Clearly I didn’t follow through with that plan but that one giant leap into the unknown was the first REALLY big and life changing risk that I took. Since then, it seems like I just keep leaping into the unknown at every turn. Sometimes I think about the possible repercussions if stuff were to not work out but usually I just follow my gut, cross my fingers, close my eyes, jump, and somehow land on my feet.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Well, this year brought with it some challenges that I was not expecting. I’m usually pretty busy teaching part time, creating my own work, and helping to keep the ceramics studio at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center running smoothly. In March, my school went virtual and Callanwolde closed all the studios for a couple months. Without access to any kilns, I wasn’t able to make work which felt kind of nice at first. It was like a weird forced vacation where I didn’t have to make anything and there weren’t any deadlines because all my scheduled events had been cancelled. There was no pressure to make make make for a change. Then when the studio opened back up, I was feeling pretty pessimistic about the future since it felt like the world was on the verge of ending. I brought my potter’s wheel home so I would have easy access to it without going out and risking exposure more than necessary but I still spent all summer not making work. I simply didn’t have the drive or energy to make anything. That continued a little into fall as school started back in a hybrid model and I was adjusting to that entirely new teaching environment. Then I hopped onto the October prompt list challenge train thingy when that rolled around. Most folks do these prompt lists by drawing or painting but I decided to just dive right into it and do it in clay. Most days my little project turned out okay but some days not so much. The biggest thing though was that I was making something! Even if it wasn’t my usual mugs and bowls, I was doing something. By the end of it, I was feeling semi back to normal creatively speaking. I was back on the wheel throwing mugs/cups left and right and it felt GOOD. I’m still adjusting to this new normal, though. I’m so used to the holiday season being super busy and stressful with lots of deadlines and events to prepare for but that’s just not the case this year. It’s so weird. On the bright side, I’ve taken some of my free time this holiday season to learn some new skills. I took an online mold making workshop early in November and have been having a blast making molds and casts of things. I guess you could say that after getting out of the funk that this year brought, I’ve been keeping myself busy trying new processes and techniques that I wouldn’t have had the time for otherwise.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would definitely say they have to take them to whatever small handmade pop-up markets are happening in the city. There were a lot pre-covid but they’re starting up again a little bit now. There are countless amazing makers here in Atlanta so stopping by a pop-up market is a fantastic way to find a unique gift or souvenir. As for food, stopping by Grindhouse for one of their killer burgers is a must. It’s a place I’ve taken friends in the past and it’s always a hit. The burger options are practically endless. I like to get a double Impossible burger with lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, an onion ring, and barbeque sauce with cheddar cheese fries on the side. The Porter Beer Bar in Little Five Points would also be a great stop. They have so so so so so many beers to choose from and every time I go, it’s a new tasting adventure. You literally could never get tired of being there having a great time with friends, sipping on new drinks, and enjoying the to die for Belgian fries.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Honestly, there are SO MANY people that I want to give a shoutout to. First off there’s my husband Derrick. He’s stuck by me for close to ten years and has been a major source of support/encouragement in all my endeavors. He’s always there to remind me that I am capable of handling everything life throws at me, even at times when it feels like I’m not. Then there’s John Roberts, the Ceramics Program Director over at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. He basically taught me everything I know as far as ceramics goes so I owe him so very much! Couldn’t ask for a better clay mentor. Then there’s Martha Cook, also over at Callanwolde. She was a great resource when I first started teaching. I didn’t even know where to start with building a curriculum but she helped me out tremendously. I also want to thank the Photo faculty at GSU. They had front row seats to my transformation from photo major to ceramic artist in the span of just a few months. Nancy, Conne, and Jill, thank you so much for giving all of your students the space and encouragement to explore other mediums and for pushing me there at the end to make even more cups than I originally planned.