While exploring the gully and stream behind her childhood home at the age of five, Sally Becker found clay. Over 50 years later, her Iron Blue Gully Studio sits above that very clay deposit. The iron-rich, bluish clay is a reminder of her first experiences with nature and art, inspiring her work, along with the memories, landscapes and history of her childhood home.
Sally’s mother was not a professional artist, but believed in the importance of art, and shared that belief with her children. Sally took art classes outside of school, and developed the philosophy that art is good for everyone from an early age. Later, she took many courses in clay, as well as drawing, painting and photography, while working toward her BFA at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She went on for a Masters in Education from Penn State, which she credits with improving her effectiveness as a teacher. An elementary and high school art teacher for 40 years, Sally describes herself as the jack of many trades, working in a variety of media.
Sally retired from teaching two years ago, which has opened up opportunities to work in her studio. Ten years ago, she began exploring Encaustic painting, a medium of hot wax and pigment, which originated in ancient Rome. She was able to study this medium with Michael Campbell at Shippensburg University.
There’s a lot of clay in her studio, too, but she often mixes media: clay sculptures often have images carved into them, or she will draw with colored slips. She also enjoys drawing with pastels, ink, pencil and graphite. “When I retired, I thought I would start this studio for the fun of it,” Sally says. “But I’m beginning to think there’s more. I am continually drawn to what’s around me where I grew up, landscapes, memories, animals, historical aspects of the farm. I want my family to see these things and remember from my point of view. I want to find a way to get people to think; to make them stop and look.”
It makes sense that this urge to inspire people to notice the beauty around them is still with her after 40 years of teaching. Fortunately for our community, Sally continues to share her inspiration and skill teaching classes at the Adams County Arts Council. This session, she is teaching Beginning Drawing and Introduction to Soft Pastels. This summer, she will offer two camps: Turn Songs into Paintings, for ages 8-10 from June 8-12, and 3D Architectural and Figurative Sculpture, for ages 11-14 from June 22-26. Her work can also be seen at numerous ACAC Exhibits and Instructors’ Shows throughout the year… including clay pieces inspired by a 5-year old’s delightful discovery.