By Jason Machulski
Pottery is all around us. Not only do we utilize it every day, but it has an amazing history. Before I tell you about my good friend Julie Dallas, I want to first give you brief history of pottery.
Ceramics is one of the most ancient industries. Once humans discovered that clay could be dug up and formed into objects by first mixing with water and then firing, the industry was born. As early as 24,000 BC, animal and human figurines were made from clay and other materials, then fired in kilns partially dug into the ground. Almost 10,000 years later, as settled communities were established, tiles were manufactured in Mesopotamia and India. The first use of functional pottery vessels for storing water and food is thought to be around 9,000 or 10,000 BC. Clay bricks were also made around the same time.
Fast-forward to the 21st century. Originally from Sulphur, Julie Dallas Goodfriend is a local potter who now lives in Lake Charles. In addition, she has a bachelor of arts degree in fine arts with a concentration in ceramics and bachelor of science degree in art education with a minor in psychology and English. A National Board Certified teacher, she has done all of this while raising three children alone.
Julie is an art teacher at SJ Welch Middle School. “I became a teacher after my divorce in 1997 because I didn’t want to give up being a full-time mother,” she explains. “My children are my priority, and I have many ‘adopted’ children in the students that I teach, forming personal bonds with them and their families. They come back and visit me years later. It’s the most rewarding thing about teaching.”
Julie has two favorite pottery art styles. Her poetry bowls combine her two loves of literature and visual art. The other style is called raku firing, which is one of my favorites as well. “It’s an unconventional method of firing and you only have a certain amount of control,” she says. “It is a method where you are actually working WITH the fire. You do your part and the fire does his. It’s a compromising marriage.”
Along with the raku firing process, she loves to do horse hair pottery. She pulls out the pot that is over 1,800 degrees, places it on a fire brick as it cools and then takes horse hair and sears it into the pot, which permanently makes unique designs. It is truly amazing to watch this process. When I asked her to describe how everything is made, Her answer is always “thermodynamics.”
Julies favorite pieces were part of a solo exhibit called “Silent Cries,” which centered on abuse of women and children by the forces of society. Her new work plays with the interaction of nature and man-made by pairing beautiful driftwood pieces that are mated to ceramic pieces.
Julie’s passion for her community shows in many ways. She volunteers for the Salvation Army Empty Bowls Project and, along with her students, has made over 800 bowls for this very worthy cause. “I feel it’s important to instill good citizenship and stewardship in the younger generation,” she says. “I try to get my students involved in giving back to the community through various art events so they will have a sense of pride and ownership in their community.”
Julie is such an inspiring person. She has time and time again shown me how big her heart is. I asked her to share one of her goals with me. “I want to build a small house by the river or ocean, retire, and open an artist’s retreat, where I can teach and do my own work while providing guidance and encouragement to other artists and allow them a peaceful retreat in which they can create,” she says. “I want to build a tiny house village to meet the needs of young adults, elderly, and physically challenged individuals, that is self-sufficient with solar power, community garden, dog park, wildflower and recreation area.”
Julie’s amazing work can be found at Arts Desire at 1322 Ryan Street along with that of her good friend, Raejean Clark-German. Arts Desire is where she does her live raku firings so everyone can witness the process. She also sells her work on her Facebook page, “Jewels Pottery.”