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Classes bring artists together
Art instructor Christina Mansfield works with Marissa Whitaker, center, and Barbara Meador, right, on their terracotta pieces at the Mills House during an art class Monday evening. Mansfield works for the Hinesville Area Arts Council, which offers weekly art classes to t he community. - photo by Photo by Seraine Page
Sometimes to have fun, you have to get a little bit messy.
On Monday and Wednesday evenings, the Hinesville Area Arts Council sponsors classes for those who like to tap into their inner artist with activities such as sketching, sculpting, painting and jewelry-making.
HAAC art instructor Christina Mansfield teaches various art forms to help beginner through advanced-level artists learn to embrace their creative sides.
“I’m trying to teach them to learn art and it becomes a therapy,” said Mansfield while kneading a slimy, brown mound of terracotta clay.
This week, her Monday evening class brought together three different generations, two of which traveled from Statesboro to learn how to work with terracotta clay and create wall plaques.
Mansfield, who enjoys clay works best, spread out small white garbage bags so each of her three artists could mold their masterpieces without creating too much of a mess.
The artists took their seats and looks of uncertainty passed over their faces as they stared at the brownish-red chunks of clay.
The group watched Mansfield dip her hands into water and smooth out the lumpy clay. Her pupils quickly followed suit. Commentary followed.
“It feels weird.”
“It kinda feels like a melted chocolate bar.”
Barbara Meador — clearly dressed too nicely for a clay class in a black and white blouse and matched jewelry set — said she has enjoyed several of Mansfield’s classes during the past few months.
Meador said she also likes spending time with other artists, especially her daughter, Tammy Williams and granddaughter Marissa Whitaker.
“It makes me feel special,” she said of the fact that her daughter drove an hour to attend class with her. “Three generations doing something different, but something the same.”
As decisions were made of what each one would sculpt from clay, Mansfield encouraged her students to be creative and reminded them of the next steps to take.
“It dries out really quick,” she said of the clay. “Add water if you start to see cracks forming.”
She chose to use terracotta clay with her class because of the historic value, she said.
“A lot of terracotta is done in Mexico,” Mansfield said. “You see a lot of suns because they worship the sun.”
She told her class to keep in mind that they would be painting their pieces as soon as the clay fully dried — in about 10 days — and went through a 2000 degree fire for five to six hours.
Meador and Williams chose to mold suns. Whitaker, 14, had a hard time deciding what she wanted to create. She didn’t want to do a sun, or a rose or even a soccer ball like her teacher suggested.
 Instead, she decided to make a plaque covered in crosses.
As she worked on perfecting her piece, Whitaker praised her art teacher when Mansfield left the room to retrieve more supplies.
“I like the teacher,” she grunted while pushing down on her clay. “She’s really nice and helps you a lot.”
Upon her return to the room, Mansfield laughed when she heard her students complain about the brown muck stuck to their hands.
“If you’re not getting messy, you’re doing something wrong.”

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