Shooting pucks, throwing pots

Max Chambers is waiting to hear if he’s been accepted into Colorado State, his first college choice. He’s a good student, with a 3.2 GPA, who wants to major in sports psychology or advertising psychology. Meanwhile, as he waits to find out if he’ll be studying in Fort Collins, he’s pretty happy here in Madison, where he plays hockey for West High and throws pots in Phil Lyon’s celebrated West High pottery class. 

“When I got into pottery I had no clue I’d like it,” says Max. “I love wheel throwing, when I hopped on the wheel I was like, 'I love this,' and Mr. Lyons always pushes me to do better.”

Mr. Lyons saw a burgeoning potter in Max almost immediately after he began his first class in 2018. Upon recognizing his talent, Mr. Lyons, along with others, encouraged Max to challenge himself.  And Max accepted the gauntlet.

“He took to the wheel right away. He's one of those kids who understood that continual engagement in the process -- which includes a significant amount of failure -- is the key to growth. So I suggested that he consider attending my weeklong summer clay camp at Adamah (Bethel Horizons). That is when Max really took off. He had the chance to work with clay 15 hours a day, for 5 days straight -- and he did it.”

“Clay camp was amazing,” says Max, “It was like a workshop, we stayed in a compound, we’d wake up and eat breakfast at 7:30 and could work on whatever you were working on until 10:30 at night. Sometimes we’d all sit down and Mr Lyon showed us slides and told us stories and sometimes we went on hikes. It was great.”

Like most artists, Max is a sensitive young man. He writes poetry that he’s shy to share, but what he is willing to share is his good will. With a pretty strict winter schedule of school, hockey practice and studying, Max finds time to volunteer through the Home Chore Program, a part of the East Madison/Monona Coalition of the Aging. On snowy days he maintains sidewalks for three elderly people still living in their homes, and in summer months he maintains their lawns. Both examples support Mr. Lyon’s observation that he’s also “a super nice person.”

And there’s more. This past fall semester Max was a teaching assistant in a beginning pottery class where Mr. Lyons also saw in him “an excellent natural teacher.” Since he’s had such success in the pottery studio, his parents surprised him with a pottery wheel this Christmas so he can now throw pots at home.

“I just love art,” says Max. “I like molding clay, I like working with my hands, I like being creative with my work, I like the people who do it, I just like making things.”






Max Chambers