by Cathy Niland

I am The Crucible Portrait Eric Dawkins Youth

Erick Dawkins is an eleven-year-old, almost sixth grader at Redwood Height Elementary School over in East Oakland. His favorite color is green, but his hair is blue, and Erick will be the first to tell you his favorite color will never be his hair color.

Erick first came to The Crucible in the fourth grade on a school field trip. He is one of over 1,000 youth from Oakland Unified School District who visit The Crucible each year for a free educational field trip, where youth learn about the processes, tools, materials, and applications of the industrial arts. Field trips are often the first time where Oakland’s young aspiring artists learn they can take classes and camps in ceramics, woodworking, welding, and more⁠—and even more importantly when they learn about our youth scholarship program.

Over Spring Break, Erick took Clay Critters and Extreme Gizmos and is now back for summer, learning woodcarving and honing his ceramic skills.

What classes have you taken at The Crucible?

There was one where we worked with electricity. I made a fan and a zippy car with two motors and buttons to direct which way the car goes. I also did a clay class that was really fun. Right now I’m also doing woodworking.

For my new clay class, I already know how to do everything because I took it before and have experience—I just know a quite a bit of stuff! I’m making a dragon, a strawberry, a cupcake. I made a tooth fairy as a tooth with wings!

Erick Dawkins finishes his clay dragon in Clay Critters.

Erick finishes his clay dragon in Clay Critters.

Erick Dawkins shows off two of his pieces from his first ceramics course.

Erick shows off two of his pieces from his first ceramics course!

How do you feel when you’re in The Crucible?

The Crucible is a nice place to be. When I’m in a quiet space with no one around me, I can really focus and get my work done. And you can do so much stuff here!

What do you love about the process of making your work?

When I get to the end of a project, I feel accomplished and I feel like I’m complete. With my dragon, I spent a lot of time on that and when I finally finished it, I felt really accomplished and I really liked it.

Where do you get inspiration for your work?

I love to draw and take my drawings into real life!

Rosa Dorantes, Ceramics Department Head. and Erick Dawkins talk about his glaze color choices.

Rosa Dorantes, Ceramics Department Head, and Erick talk about his glaze color choices.

Do you have any teachers that stick out to you?

Rosa and Phoebe. They teach Clay Critters and taught me a lot, like how to make the clay hollow in order for it not to explode!

What’s the class you’re most looking forward to?

Welding! Because I love cars and I was thinking, ‘Why not make my own car?!’

During his first week of camps, Erick Dawkins was blown away by Denise Snaer-Gauder’s fire performance.

During his first week of camps, Erick was blown away by Denise Snaer-Gauder’s fire performance.

What’s the coolest thing you ever saw at The Crucible?

During spring break, there was a woman with a crown that had fire on it and she was holding up a pole with fire on it and dancing around.

Do you have anything else you want to tell other kids about The Crucible?

Come here while you still can. It’s fun!

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