LeAnn Siefferman, with her eyes closed and her hands out in front of her, talks gently about the peace that is involved in making pottery.
“Your feet, and the movement of your hands, and your mind, your thoughts, everything is in one place at one time,” Sieffeman said. “And there’s not many other places in our lives that we experience that.”
Siefferman has created art for most of her life, but since 2016, she’s been throwing pottery and dinnerware that creates a conversation.
Originally from Georgia, Siefferman has lived in Orlando for seven years. Aside from creating pottery, she is taking courses online to receive a graduate certificate in sustainability. Siefferman also works part-time as the programming coordinator for the Crealdé School of Art and part-time for the City of Orlando in its sustainability office.
Siefferman has also worked for several nonprofits, one in the area being Canine Companions for Independence. While with CCI, Siefferman helped set up school programs such as STEP at UCF.
“I really enjoyed working in the non-profit sector all my life,” Siefferman said. “I’ve never been motivated by money. I’ve always been motivated by doing something to improve the community in some way.”
As a way to get the community talking about topics like race and privilege or climate change, Siefferman started a dinner program called Making Conversations. Each dinner has about 6 – 12 plates with illustrations on the fronts and a story that Siefferman tells on the back.
The goal of the dinners is to dissolve the fear that is associated with the difficult topics and get people to learn to talk to each other about them.
“If we can’t even communicate, how are we going to be able to identify where the hurt is, or where the issues are if we don’t even know how to talk about them,” Siefferman said.
To make the dinners relevant and accurate, Siefferman conducts research, listens to podcasts, and talks to people in the community about each dinner subject. She also shares her own personal narrative.
“As I would tell the story of each plate, together all 12 plates created a story themselves, about the subject, who I was or who I am, and the questions that I’m asking of myself, of people,” Siefferman said. “It kind of opens up the evening for really intense discussion about the subject.”
Aside from the dinner plates, Siefferman creates bowls and is now working on teapots.
Siefferman encourages young artists to not worry about the potential problems with creating pieces or starting a new project — they should take that leap and just do it.