RUMFORD — As a sophomore, she was a timid, shy student who lacked self-confidence. She rarely spoke in class. Now, as a student who just completed her junior year, she readily smiles, struts her stuff on stage in musicals and theater arts productions and recently learned advanced ceramics techniques at an internationally-known craft institute.

The difference in Kelsey Bevins is astounding. She attributes it to finding her passion on stage and in the ceramics studio.

Recently, Bevins spent a long weekend at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Island. The program was designed for high school students and included world-renown instructors.

Bevins explained, “Haystack asks each Maine high school to select a student. The art teacher picks a student who they think will get something out of it. Mainly juniors attended but one sent a sophomore.”

Art teacher Steve McGinty said Bevins was his first student to attend Haystack in his five years of teaching art at MVHS.

“Kelsey has taken a number of art classes and shows great potential,” McGinty said. “The work she has done in class has been very creative and original. I thought she could learn a great deal from the Haystack program as well as benefit from meeting the other art students. She has shown me some of the ceramic work she did there and I was very impressed. I think it is a great program and was a perfect fit for Kelsey.”

“I choose ceramics, because I had done ceramics that semester,” Bevins said. “I had done clay work and liked wheel work. I choose it to see if I wanted to pursue it further.”

She spent three studio sessions per day with 14 other students, an assistant teacher and Jim Lawton. Lawton is professor of ceramics and chair of the Artisanry Department at the College of Visual and Performing Arts at UMass Dartmouth.

Bevins said, “We did a cool thing called raku firing, a type of Japanese pottery. We built a pit, filled it with straw, then lit it. You put the piece in the pit for a few hours then remove the piece and place it in sawdust. Wherever there’s no glaze, it’s black from the smoke.”

On the social side, Bevins found kindred spirits at Haystack. “Meeting all the other people was really nice. I was nervous because I don’t talk a lot. It was a really comfortable environment. Everyone was an artist who understands other artists.”

Finally Lawton praised Bevins for her work as they were packing on the last day.

Bevins recalled, “The teacher said I was really good at ceramics and he said that he wouldn’t be surprised if I were teaching a class.”

Bevins has been accepted for a two-week summer program at Maine College of Arts in Portland. Bevins will learn more about photography and earn three college credits.

Bevins explained, “MeCA only takes 30 students and I got accepted.”

In addition to her art, Bevins recently played Robin Starveling in “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” She also sang in the Best of Every Musical.

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