meet the teachers
Sarah Girard has been studying wheel thrown ceramics for over 20 years. Her passion for ceramics began on the wheel at 13, enamored by the work of George E. Ohr, and continued when she met her professor and mentor, Kathy Koop, in college. After being invited to a demonstration by Paul Soldner, Sarah made the switch from Biochemistry to Fine Art. In 2009 she earned a BA in Fine Art from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. Because of the small size of the department, Sarah was afforded the opportunity to intensively study raku firing, glazes, and ceramics one-on-one with Koop. Sarah was a TA for Koop’s ceramic classes from 2007 to 2009. In 2005 Sarah began teaching ceramics while in college by traveling back to her former high school, thanks to ACVHS teacher Anita Allen. Her well rounded art education and experience has heavily influenced her ability to push clay to its limits and be adaptable for students at all levels. While Sarah’s focus has always been functional ceramics, she loves OOAK commission work. She is also a web/graphic designer and former professional tattoo artist who is obsessed with her dog, Eva, dollhouse miniatures, and southern Italian wines. You can find examples of her work at smghandcraft.com
Austin Paul Geithner is a pottery wheel instructor and undergraduate student at Towson University. He took his first basic pottery wheel class in the winter of 2018 and has been exploring the art and craft of ceramics since then. The variety of possibilities within ceramic arts truly piqued his curiosity. Drawing inspiration from nature, chemistry and of course other ceramic artists, he emphasizes the unity of form and function with his work. Austin primarily creates work with earthenware, stoneware and porcelain clays in his home studio. Besides working with clay, Austin also plays a variety of percussion instruments, primarily drum set, is a beekeeper, tropical plant enthusiast and gardener.
Christa Ladny has been exploring ceramics since she took her first sculpture class in 2005. She was endeared by clay’s capacity to mirror the inner and often unconscious worlds of others who put their hands to these humble lumps of dirt. The incredibly tactile experience of transformation reflected in this medium has been an invaluable source of healing and playfulness in her life. She received her BFA in visual art from UMBC and her professional internship in scenic art at Center Stage. She works as a scenic artist and teacher in the Baltimore/Annapolis area. She likes yoga, poodles, forests, and aerial dance.
francesca van stolk
Francesca is a ceramic artist and teacher with over ten years experience teaching children and adults alike. After receiving her degree in Art Education at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia she taught students of all ages around the world, from Philadelphia to Thailand, from Finland to China. She began her ceramics journey as a student at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia, one of the first community clay studios of its kind in the United States. From her first class she was hooked on clay, and she continues to share her passion with beginning students and experienced ceramicists.
Francesca’s primary focus is hand building, with an emphasis on surface decoration. She uses painting, carving, inlaid colors, reductive textures and layering techniques to combine graphic patterns and illustration with functional ceramic objects from small scale jewelry to large home wares like fruit bowls, platters, and planters. Inspired by naturally occurring patterns and real-life places, Francesca takes great joy in creating custom work that commemorates important events, places and relationships both for herself and others.