Before becoming a resident of Meegwetch Place, Avonelle felt “nameless and like a number.” She had been hospitalized and discharged, finding herself alone and homeless. But when Meegwetch opened its doors in 1991 she became one of its first tenants, and has thankfully called it home ever since. “Here I feel safe and I get support,” Avonelle comments. She enjoys the community and even tends to the garden when she can, despite her bad knee.
She became involved in the arts and crafts program when pottery was introduced. Her first attempt was difficult but her tenacity has paid off. After almost a decade of working with clay, what she enjoys most is the organic quality of using her hands to create her unique pieces.
Avonelle looks forward to making the weekly trek to the studio. “I have someplace to go and someplace to meet people and at the same time it’s something you’re creating. It’s three things in one so I get a lot out of it.” She also believes in sharing the tools of her craft. “A lot of people come into the studio and there’s only a few wheels and I always feel like giving somebody a chance before me, so I let somebody use it and I do something else.” This can mean building pieces by hand, which she often does, but she prefers the symmetry and balance of the pieces worked on the wheel.
Her pottery can often take weeks to finish but she relishes every stage, especially choosing the coloured glaze that puts the finishing touch on her work. “I get satisfaction when I see my finished pieces,” she shares. “It makes me feel that I’m worth something, that I can do something with my hands, something that can last a while.”
This nomination has given Avonelle a confidence boost. While she doesn’t yet call herself an artist, winning would allow her to improve her artistry. She would enroll in advanced classes, purchase the needed materials and continue to ultimately “conquer the wheel."
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