Paul O’Neil, Shippenville, PA

When I was a teacher, I wore a teacher mask. When I played football, I wore a football player mask. When I do ceramics, the mask comes off. I can be me.

Paul came to ceramics later in life. With no formal training in art, he took up the craft as therapy for a life-changing illness. Big Paul, as his friends call him, discovered a gift he never knew he had – the ability to mold clay into creatures that capture the spirit of our native wildlife. On warm days his studio door is wide open for cold drinks, lively banter and a look at his latest creations – fish, frogs, flowers, coffee mugs, chili bowls and special requests .

I was an athlete and that door slammed in my face. Now I’m an artist. My art is functional and accessible. I’m proud to be a part of Clean Creek. Everything needs clean water to live. I tell everyone about what you guys are doing to recycle coal mine pollution and turn it around to help the volunteers solve the problem. It’s great!

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