Diana Kersey | Episode 650
Diana Kersey is a visual artist working exclusively in clay, from small studio pieces to large architectural installations. Diana’s public works have been commissioned by the City of San Antonio, VIA Metropolitan Transit, The San Antonio River Authority, and the City of Harlingen. Diana just completed a large private commission (over 650 square feet) for a new office tower in San Antonio, Texas. Diana earned an MFA in ceramics from Washington State University in 1997, and a BFA in drawing from Texas Tech University in 1994. She serves on the faculty at Northwest Vista College and owns and operates Kersey Ceramics LLC.
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As a team leader is it important to have a purpose and strong core values?
Yeah, I would think so. For the most part just being a transparent and kind and recognizing people are working hard on the project and just being appreciative goes a long way to making a good team. In San Antonia I think specifically having cases of Popsicles in the deep freezer to keep everyone working harder and faster and longer. That was a very effective tool so definitely if you are a team leader bring Popsicles.
If you want to have the right destination how important is it to have the right people with you?
Definitely. And I have been very fortunate in that everybody that I have ever hired has just genuinely loved clay and I think that is why I was attracted to them in the first part is I could see that they really loved working in the material. It is not so much about their ego but just about that conversation you have with the material, you know it when you see it, when you see people in love with that. That’s the kind of people I want to cultivate and work with because I really love playing around with clay and I just feel very fortunate that’s the way my life has gone.
Is having the right people also the result of having the right approach to your people? In other words you showed up with Popsicles, that’s something.
Right, yeah. When I hire a person I hire the whole person. I am not just hiring because I know that they can operate a slab roller,you know, I really care about them and I really want them to do the best they can and their own work and I see that as me being an older artist I am here to use their talents and their skills and their youngness, but also to provide them with experience so they can go out and do great things as their career progresses.
Do you find that in order to be a good leader it is better to be the biggest learner instead of the biggest know -it- all?
Definitely. Yes. I am constantly learning and I am constantly making mistakes and I try to be very honest that when I screw up I screw up and I tel you and so that kind of opens the door for other people to feel a little more comfortable and they don’t have to be perfect around me but just honest.
Do you have to make sure that they are supportive of your vision?
I think it’s not being supportive of my vision but I think they gotta understand it and I think I gotta outwork everybody. So I am not asking anybody to do anything I am not doing myself. And so I think you can just lead by example is the best way.
Does fun play a big role in the whole process?
Definitely. If we are not having a good time while we are there…you know, I will be honest through, that last project, it was an endurance contest. It was fun in the beginning and toward the end when we were working the last few panels we hired someone a little late, we needed help, and we weren’t having as much fun at the end. We kind of told her we were joking, normally we have a lot more fun and smiling and having a good time, but we just gotta knock this thing out. Yeah, that last project was an endurance contest, but we do have a good time. When we go to install we make it a point to have a fun wherever we are traveling to do that and it’s all about the experiences in life and not really the end result.
We talked about your team having fun together but is it also important to have a solid, strong work ethic?
Yes, definitely. The work ethic is definitely the physical work ethic. As you know, we went through 8 thousand pounds of clay on that last project and so that is just a lot of physical labor just moving that much clay around and getting it in the kilns and out and packing and all that. But it is also just staying on top of communication and just not letting things slide. Just always being on the ball and always doing everything you can to move the project forward.