In early November, Wayne Center for the Arts held a celebration for its 50th Anniversary and a very special teacher who has impacted thousands of students, being one of the first instructors to join Wayne Center for the Arts in 1974. Carli Moorefield is a WCA institution. If you’ve taken a clay class, you’ve probably learned from Carli!
Carli was a graduate of the College of Wooster, and Wayne Center for the Arts started its journey there as well. Originally named “The Wooster Art Center,” the arts center started on the College of Wooster campus in fall of 1973, and Carli joined as a teacher in the spring of 1974. Envisioned as a community art center by founder Arnold Lewis, Carli’s favorite art professor at the college, it was given ten years of free rent in the Frick library basement.
Carli’s daughter, Leah Evans recalls, “My mom tells the story of how the first director, Jon Thomas, asked her to teach pottery. Mom agreed to teach kids, telling Jon that she wasn’t a good enough potter yet to teach adults. Then he promptly called her and told her to come in and teach the adult class because the other teacher had unexpectedly quit. She did and has been teaching adults and children ever since.”
At the reception, Leah shared stories of the early days of the arts center and its move to the Walnut Street School in the early 1980’s. “My mom remembers visiting with the director, Rick Jones, and opening the door to the basement and current studio to see dirt floors and fifty urinals stacked against the wall. It has improved since then, to say the least.”
Nearly 100 guests gathered to honor Carli and to reminisce about the history of Wayne Center for the Arts. The reception also included a 50th Anniversary Exhibit sponsored by the Donald and Alice Noble Foundation, Meaden & Moore, Critchfield, Critchfield, & Johnston, and United Titanium.
But the true celebration was all of the students attending. During her remarks, Executive Director Sara Brink asked for those who had taken a class with Carli to raise their hand, and a roomful of hands in the air spoke volumes to Carli’s influence. In some cases, Carli has taught 3 generations of kids in one family!
“One person said that my mom is a legend. Another said that pottery class has eased her depression as the class has given her a community and a way to connect with her artistic side,” observed Leah during her presentation, “My mom says she has so many favorite students that it would be hard to pinpoint a few. She says her favorites are the students who won’t take no for an answer. Her favorite moment in a class is when a student’s face lights up when they realize what they have created … It is that moment of discovery, that moment of knowing that you can envision and then create your vision, that keeps my mom coming back to her classes year after year.”
Thank you, Carli, for your steadfast commitment to the mission of WCA and for inspiring creativity in generations of artists!