Natchez Clay intern enjoys art-making process

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 10, 2010

NATCHEZ — Taking an internship at Natchez Clay was Grant Benoit’s way of molding his future with his hands.

Benoit, 20, who is an art student at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., started his internship two weeks ago after hearing that it would be a good way to spend his summer.

“I wanted to learn more about different art forms,” Benoit said. “I feel like the more I learn about different art processes, the better the artist I will be.”

The 2008 Cathedral School graduate knew he wanted to spend the majority of his summer learning about art, and Natchez Clay was a good fit because the artist-in-residence, Mary Baugh, allows him to have 24-hour access to the studio.

He also assists Baugh with workshops, prep work and has an excellent tutor, he said. Benoit said mopping the studio once a week was well worth the benefits.

“I like taking my education into my own hands — here I get to learn a different medium and something about myself,” Benoit said. “It has been great so far.”

Taking private painting lessons this summer was another option Benoit had, but he said working with clay was a better option.

“I feel like working at the gallery and spending a lot of my time here is more effective for what I want than an art lesson once a week,” he said. “I also get to see first hand how an art studio works.”

Learning ceramics has been tough for Benoit, but he said it would be worth it in the end.

“It will be great when I can look back on some of the first pieces I did, the middle range pieces and then what I have created at the end and see how I have progressed,” Benoit said.

“I’ve learned a lot about patience too.”

Benoit’s favorite type of art is printmaking, which involves engraving a scene or work into a piece of metal or wood. Benoit said printmaking and ceramics have a lot in common.

“They are very process-oriented art forms, which I enjoy,” Benoit said.

Benoit’s internship ends in August when he goes back to school, but he isn’t limiting his education to the school-grounds.

“When I go back, I will be interning with a book-binder in Mobile, Ala.,” Benoit said. “It will be interesting too.”

Ceramics can be interesting even if you are not artistic, Benoit said.

“Taking a class can open up different thought processes for you, so you can learn to think differently,” Benoit said. “It will also be great for anyone interested in the arts.”

Benoit plans to get his master’s degree, and he wants to teach printmaking at the university level. He is the son of Natchez residents Michael and Jean Benoit.