Fall Term Information for Phillips Academy Families

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Thayer Zaeder ’83

Instructor and Department Chair. “As an art instructor, I try to pass on this wisdom—that inspiration can be found rather than divined.”

I currently teach full time in the art department, house counsel and continue to help coach the varsity cycling team each spring. My area of expertise is ceramics, a medium I have been working in since 1980. I am a graduate of Andover, class of 83' and became very interested in visual art when I was a student here. I enjoy the challenge of reconnecting students to working with their hands and to bringing their ideas into material form.

In my own experiences as a teacher and an artist, inspiration comes in many forms and from many sources. It is never a static thing. Sometimes I am inspired by the work of my students as they express themselves with a boldness that I find refreshing. Other times I’m moved by the work of contemporary artists, ancient artifacts and pots, or the complex beauty in the natural world.

As fickle as inspiration can be, I return often to a few core ideas that always fuel my interest in creative exploration. As an object maker and someone involved in a 30-year affair with clay, I’m forever trying to discover vessel forms that have appealing proportions and shape. My love of the material of clay also motivates me to celebrate its tactile qualities through an exploration of surface. Somehow marrying form and surface into a compelling and well-crafted object is my inspirational ground zero.

I also believe strongly that inspiration is a natural by-product of thoughtful inquiry and endeavor in the studio. I discover so many good ideas simply by doing and being open to the possibilities that are suggested through process. For me personally, the alternatives that emerge are often better than the seed idea. As an art instructor, I try to pass on this wisdom—that inspiration can be found rather than divined.

Reprinted from Andover magazine.

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