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Finding peace and purpose through pottery

Bobbi Kemna is a familiar face at Fort Scott Presbyterian Village and has been active in our Art is Ageless program for many years, even winning several awards at the system-wide level. We’re pleased to display Bobbi’s artwork during the month of October in our lobby, and invite all residents, family members and community members to learn more about the art of pottery.

But what Bobbi wants others to see, beyond her skill at working with clay, is that art is for everyone.

“I didn’t always have an interest in art. My husband Harry and I had multiple businesses, and he was my best friend and biggest cheerleader. He always said whatever you want, let’s make it happen,” said Bobbi. “I saw an article in the paper that said the newspaper owner Sammie Embry had just completed a clay class. I was interested, and she said if I could find six people who could take the class, she’d offer it again. She handed us a little ball of clay and told us to make a pinch pot, and I didn’t know what that was.”

Everyone has to start out somewhere, but Bobbi’s pottery career almost didn’t make it off the ground.

“After that first class, I just decided it wasn’t for me. I told Sammie she could keep my money, but that I’d rather not return. She asked me to please come back one more time, and it sounds so cliche, but I picked up the clay, and it just grabbed me. It wrapped around my heart and my being, and I never looked back. When Harry died, it became my way back to center. You have to get back to center. It does that for me,” said Bobbi. “Sammie moved to Tennessee, but we’re still very close. Sammie literally changed my life. I was stressed and under pressure, I don’t drink or smoke, and needed some sort of relief.”

Passing it on

That first clay class was in 1992, and Bobbi has created many pieces since then, and even installed a studio at home. Bobbi extends her passion to others through art classes she’s given, both at Presbyterian Village and elsewhere.

“I’ve done several workshops for Presbyterian Village. I take clay to them, then bring home their creations to fire in my kiln. I then bring them back and we glaze them, I fire them in the kiln, then bring them back and we glaze them, take them back home and fire them again. It’s a process, but I love seeing others enjoy working with clay,” said Bobbi.

In addition to teaching her craft to others, one of Bobbi’s dreams has been to host an art festival on her property of four acres. So that’s exactly what she did in September!

“We called it ‘Art in the Yard,’ and I brought in 25 artists from all over. We had food and music and a trolley picked people up and took them back on the half hour. It’s been a vision for a long time. Life gets in the way sometimes, but either make it happen or stop talking about it!” said Bobbi.

We’re grateful to Bobbi for her passion for art and teaching it to others, and her willingness to let us enjoy her clay creations here at Fort Scott Presbyterian Village during the month of October.

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