Wilmington, NC artist Betsy J. Parker works primarily in clay, but also explores block printing, monoprinting and other artistic media as often as she can. Artist Statement I don’t remember a time in my life I wasn’t making something from any materials available. I began college studies in art and, being practical, finished a degree in sociology. That led to a career as a social worker. When our son was born, I returned to art, specifically to fiber arts. However, a potter friend introduced me to stoneware and porcelain and it was as if I had come home. Clay took over. Juried art shows were a regular part of life for my husband, son and me for 20+ years. I became known for animal forms with happy, endearing expressions – both in sculptural and functional work at shows across five states. Moving to Wilmington brought more contact with wonderful artists and opportunities for workshops with two visiting artists from China as well as other experts. Currently, I work in clay and mixed media. Clay is predominantly hand-built; animals and happy faces are often the subject matter. I enjoy raku firing as often as I can. In mixed media I do print-making –monoprinting, creating stamps, block printing – as well as painting, fiber work and collage. My work’s focus is on lightening the mood in daily life with a smile here and there. Something special I’ve created for that purpose are the HeartStones – a means of causing a daily lift in mood. There have been awards and ribbons from exhibits and festivals, but the most cherished prize is the number of smiles the pieces collect along the way.