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Getting Her Hands Dirty

Getting Her Hands Dirty

Award Winning Artist Kimberly Caroon teaches pottery at BCC

story by Carla Edstrom

Southport has a little secret on Lord Street. It is the Southport campus of Brunswick Community College. They offer mostly creative adult education art classes from painting and jewelry making to pottery and textiles. BCC at Southport is a great outlet for you to explore your creative side at a convenient Southport location. I teach pottery there along with two other wonderful instructors.

The Southport pottery classes actually started in the old building behind Franklin Square Gallery by the city gym over 45 years ago. I first walked in that old building in 2006 and met Kimberly Smittle Caroon there. She has been the teacher through BCC for 25 years moving with the program three years ago to the Lord Street campus. Caroon is a fabulous artist in her own right with many awards to her name and over 1500 students to her career.

“I was born in Ohio, we moved around a lot because my father was climbing the ladder in the education system,” said Caroon. “We moved approximately every three to four years. I did not like moving so often, however, it taught me how to make friends quickly. We lived outside the Chicago area during my high school years. Then back to Ohio. While I was in Cleveland Heights, waiting to go to Ohio State University I took some art classes at the local high school,” she said.

She has been a full time local resident for 26 years, although her family has been visiting the area since her childhood. “I always knew I would live around the Southport area, “ she said. “My parents built a house at the beach about 50 years ago. So this has always been home. When I was in elementary school, my father was the superintendent in Elyria, Ohio,” she said. “His art director happens to have a house here at Long Beach. Because they were golfing buddies, the art director invited us to the beach so he and my dad could play golf. I was only seven years old the first time we came to the beach. I immediately fell in love with the art director’s wife, who we called Aunt Jenny. She and I made a connection and because her husband had a studio in their basement in Ohio, I got to make my first coil pot during a sleepover. I was so involved with that pot she had a hard time calling me up for lunch.”

According to Caroon, things were a lot different here in the Southport area 50 years ago. “Back then, not only were there no stops lights, there are no stop signs,” she said. “There were wild boar, bobcats and practically no houses on what was called Long Beach. But as kids we didn’t care, we had a rowboat (our paddles were two by fours) and we paddled around Davis Canal. Slid down yellow banks. And spent so much time in the ocean I’m surprised that we were not attacked by sharks!”

Caroon credits her mother as her role model and artistic inspiration. “My mother Drusilla Smittle is an excellent painter; I grew up watching her create gorgeous paintings.” says Caroon. “I feel like I was born an artist,” says Caroon. “At least I was groomed to believe that and it’s stuck! Fortunately, while growing up, I was surrounded by all forms of art,” she explained. “When I graduated from Ohio State and my parents offered me a job that paid a lot more than being an art teacher. So I took the higher-paying job and had a studio built in my backyard. But I wanted more, including children, and I was lucky enough to have girl, boy twins- Skylyn and Cash.”

According to Caroon, there is no better art medium than clay because it is so versatile and the ideas and possibilities are limitless. “With clay you can sculpt, throw on the wheel, you can carve, you can paint beautiful scenes on your clay. You can pinch, pull, and coil. I think it is so cool that you can take something that Mother Nature made (clay) and make art out of it, whether functional or a piece of art to look at in awe, or both!” Caroon’s clay work is very sleek and beautifully finished and her style is timeless and recognizable. She puts a lot of time and love into each piece of pottery she makes.

Although Caroon has taught many different projects to students over the years, her favorites were the class projects that she would assign. “We used to have a show at Franklin Square Art Gallery and I assigned a project,” explained Caroon. “We have done everything from shoes, teapots, miniature art, African masks, purses, body parts, and place settings. The best one was totem poles. Each class had to create their own totem pole, which meant they had to come together as a team and agree on measurements and how they could make the totem pole be as one.” You can see some of the class-made totem poles on display at the Southport campus.

You can reach Caroon by email at or see her pottery for sale around Southport, including the Franklin Square Gallery, Ricky Evans, and the Maritime Museum.

To find out more about BCC pottery classes, go to

Spring 2019 classes are enrolling now.

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