PITTSBORO - Sculptor Debbie Englund credits Central Carolina Community College for helping her make the transition from full-time mom and child care provider to sellable artist.
The mother of five, Englund moved to North Carolina from New Jersey in 1980 so that her husband could attend Duke University. He ultimately attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and works as a senior estimator for a commercial construction company in High Point.
Englund, a Chapel Hill resident, worked at various jobs before settling into being a full-time stay-at-home mom and child care provider. Along with her own children, she started caring for young children in her home as a means of income. It was through her child care business that she was inspired to attend Central Carolina Community College's Fine Arts program at the college's Siler City Center.
"I have always worked with my hands," Englund said. "I don't do 'be quiet and sit still' very well. I loved sculpture in high school, but even as a small child I preferred playing in the mud under the swings more than swinging."
The parents of one of the children she cared for were potters so they and Englund traded child care for pottery classes.
"I decided to participate in the program at CCCC to learn more about pottery and glazing," she said. "There, I was given the opportunity through a fellow student to work with sculptor Nina Hole on her fire sculpture that was completed in 2012 for the town of Cary. CCCC gave me the opportunity to work with many different artists and materials. It was very exciting. Through CCCC, I discovered that I liked all kinds of media - metal, stone, even concrete."
One of Englund's sculptures, "A Link," is a velvety surfaced interlocking abstract carved from soapstone.
"I took a piece of black soapstone and worked to see how far I could take it," Englund said. "Can I cut it in two pieces without completely taking it apart? You don't know where the line is until you cross it sometimes."
Englund likes people to interact with her sculpture. One curved area in the sculpture "Black Soapstone No.1" has developed a glossy surface from the fingers of so many people touching it while it was in a gallery show.
"I love the fact that the piece is worn from people touching it," she said. "I am a very tactile person. When I see something that appeals to me, the first thing I want to do is touch it. The experience of sculpture is enhanced by that tactile interaction."
In 2013, Englund received an Associate of Applied Science in Professional Arts and Crafts: Sculpture as well as an Academic Excellence Award from CCCC. She is currently working on a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in sculpture at UNC-Greensboro.
In 2012 and 2013, she apprenticed with Neolia Cole Womack, an 11th-generation traditional North Carolina potter, in Sanford. She has also served as studio manager for the North Carolina Arts Incubator, in Siler City, and continues to create works that are available in her studio in Siler City as well as several regional galleries.
One of her pottery pieces took the "First Place Functional" award at the Nellie Allen Smith Pottery Competition at the 2012 Cape Fear Studios, in Fayetteville. Her sculpture, "A Link," will be part of a June 1-Sept. 19 national juried multi-media exhibition at the Maria V. Howard Arts Center in Rocky Mount.
"The Fine Arts program at CCCC was like opening the door for me," Englund said. "It was the first time I considered working in anything but clay, the first time I carved stone, cast iron or worked in print making. If the program had not been interesting, challenging, and fun, I don't think I would have been inspired to go on to a university."
The Associate of Fine Arts degree at CCCC is a two-year program that prepares students to transition into a university arts program at the junior level. The instructors are artists themselves and students benefit from both their academic and practical understanding of their fields.
Students receive broad-based instruction in a variety of disciplines, including drawing, sculpting, printmaking, ceramics, and more. They also receive the benefit of being able to work immediately in their chosen field while attending classes at CCCC.
To see some of Englund's pieces, go to www.afaceintheclay.com. For more information on the Fine Arts program at CCCC, contact Lead Instructor Phil Ashe at email@example.com, 919-545-8676.
Sculptor Debbie Englund looks over one of her creations in her Chapel Hill studio. Englund is the mother of five and ran a day care center. She loved working in clay and came to Central Carolina Community College to hone her skills to become a professional sculptor. She received her Associate of Applied Science in Professional Arts and Crafts: Sculpture in 2013 and is currently working on a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in sculpture at UNC-Greensboro. One of her works will be part of the June 1-Sept. 19 national juried multimedia exhibition at the Maria V. Howard Arts Center in Rocky Mount. To see some of Englund's pieces, go to www.afaceintheclay.com. For more information on the Fine Arts program at CCCC, contact Lead Instructor Phil Ashe at firstname.lastname@example.org, 919-545-8676.