Chicago Potter and Teacher Levi Yastrow Comes to CSC’s Second Saturdays


Chicago Potter and Teacher Levi Yastrow Comes to CSC’s Second Saturdays 

Chicago artist Levi Yastrow is a believer in the collaborative aspect of teaching. Ceramic Supply Chicago will welcome him on May 11 at our Saturday Visiting Artist Series, where he will offer a day-long workshop featuring hands-on throwing and decorating along with discussion and sharing that he says helps to “build the community of potters.”


Yastrow is a teacher and soda monitor at Lillstreet Art Center and an instructor at Penquin Foot Pottery.  Interested in art and clay from an early age, he began his college studies at the Art Institute of Chicago intending to major in photography.  “I went to register, and there weren’t any photography courses available,” he recalls, “so I enrolled in clay courses and just ended up going in that direction.”  He built a connection with his teacher, Delores Fortuna, who influenced his work and became a mentor.  “I liked the way she actively involved students from the top down,” he explains. “She had us making clay, loading kilns, making glazes right from the start.”  Yastrow was inspired by this collaborative approach to making as a joint project.  Later, he took a class with potter Jack Troy at the Art Institute’s Ox Bow School of Art in Saugatack, Michigan.  He says, “My work with Jack Troy reinforced the idea of teaching as collaboration and clarified for me that this is what I want to do.”


A working potter, Yastrow says that there is a direct relationship between teaching and his own work.  “Between Lillstreet and Penquin,” he explains, “I am teaching six days a week. With beginners, I am reinforcing the fundamentals.  It definitely has improved my throwing skills.”  With more advanced student, Yastrow takes a more reflective approach, sharing conversation about how art is made.  “I like the feedback from the students,” he says.  “The active talk amongst us often changes and affects the pieces we are working on.  A piece might be passed along among many artists – this one applies a handle; this one shares a transfer.  It makes new artists and builds the community.”  His focus on soda firing is a natural opportunity for group work, as is his work with the transfer process.


At May’s workshop, Yastrow will devote the morning to throwing and constructing before moving on to decorative techniques in the afternoon.  He will demonstrate the underglaze transfer process, the use of slips, and carving techniques.  He says, “After four years in art school, I never really learned to draw, so I came up with another way to add imagery to pots – it’s a great ‘work-around!’”  The workshop allows for dropping in throughout the day.  Participants can choose to bring leather-hard work for the afternoon decorating portion. Don’t miss this chance to expand your own clay community through the sharing of ideas and techniques.


Yastrow will be at Ceramic Supply Chicago on Saturday, May 11, from 10 am through 3 pm. No registration is required.


Look for more of Yastrow’s work on Instagram, at #take_it_or_levi