Chad Caldwell: Art, Nature and A Joy for Life

Chad Caldwell

Let me introduce you to Chad Caldwell, a quintessential artist. He has a childlike passion for life, he lives each day creatively and fully, and his ideas are abundant and overflowing. There is not enough time in the day for Chad. He wants to explore everything that excites him. He is young and full of passion.

Chad discovered clay over two years ago taking beginning wheel classes here at The Village Potters Clay Center. In no time at all he had a studio set up in the basement of his house.

Chad at his home studio

One evening a week, for the last two years, Chad has been in class exploring this medium and sharpening his skills, while the rest of the week he was making pots at home. Although it may seem easy, making pots on the potter’s wheel is not. Anyone who has tried it knows, finding your center, finding center with the clay, and understanding the subtleties of moving clay requires tenacity, along with an intuitive nature and a sense of resilience. 

When I asked Chad about his love for pots he said, “I like to think clay chose me. When taking my very first class at The Village Potters, I was hooked. All I could think of was how I could make ceramics a lifelong experience? How could I take more classes so I could learn? I love every aspect of clay and the journey it has to go through.”

Chad celebrating pots in his process

Everything Chad does is creative. There is a quote often attributed to Picasso, and some say, Shakespeare: “ The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” We aren’t sure who said it, but Chad lives it.

By day, Chad is an elementary school art teacher. I am certain from getting to know him that he is fully engaged when teaching his kids, nurturing and inspiring the gift within his students. I have no doubt that Chad’s students will be forever influenced by him. He nurtures creative freedom, while teaching the elements of design, color, and technique. I know this because of social media. I get to witness his teaching strategies and the fruit of his gift of teaching. One way to measure the gift of teaching in the arts is the originality of student work. Here is a lovely visual of a class project where every kid’s piece is exquisitely unique.

Collage of Chad’s students work: I love this so much!

When talking about teaching kids, Chad lights up. He said, “Teaching art to children has taught me to be more free in my work, to let go, and have fun. I always say to my students that if you make a mistake, turn it into a happy accident and see where it takes you. Don’t give up and keep going. I try to make my class as fun as possible because art should be fun.” 

The child in Chad is alive and well! “I am a huge kid.” Chad said, “I like to have fun with my work and push it to see where it can go. I also take influence from a lot of sources and dig my hands in and try everything at once, this helps the creativity keep flowing.” 

Chad is a mountain man, born in a small rural town, Robbinsville, NC. Chad’s pottery business is Artfully Appalachian. He said, “I chose this name as inspiration from where I’m from.” His tenderness, enthusiasm and mountain accent will melt your heart. 

Chad’s work exudes his love for clay. He is continually exploring and trying new things. He celebrates his creations. His daily life is translated into his work. He delights in the simple things and this simplicity and beauty are translated into his work. “My work is influenced by my outdoor experiences, connection to nature, and my Appalachian roots. Kind of a mix of all three. I try to fuse or connect my color choice, carvings, shapes, and all aspects back to nature and my experiences. I want to share with my audience my love for the outdoors and maybe inspire people to go out and enjoy it more.”

Chad makes pots to use. He uses pots every day and wants to share the joy and love for pots with others.

Sarah Wells Rolland
Founder and Ceramic Artist
The Village Potters Clay Center