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Local artist and teacher converts old travel trailer into a mobile ceramics studio

Jennifer Joy Loop had an unusual vision when she paid about $450 for a 43-year-old, barebones RV last April.

While the 1974 Aljo trailer didn't look like much when she towed it to Newberg from the Clackamas area, she saw the worn, windowless, unfurnished camper as the next big step in her career as an artist and ceramicist.

A few months later, she's on the cusp of realizing that vision of having a mobile art studio, in which she can create new work, host classes on the road and bring her art just about anywhere she wants. GARY ALLEN - Newberg resident Jennifer Joy Loop sits in a 1974 Aljo trailer that she has nearly finished converting into a mobile ceramics studio. She plans to publicly debut the finished studio with her first 'pottery pop-up shop at The Coffee Cottage.

"For me, being able to go and set up shop somewhere and be there while people are engaging with that, that community aspect, that's exciting …" Loop said. "I want to engage with people, and talk to them, and get them using artistic language, and get them thinking about the arts, and asking questions and encouraging to kind of handle things."

Although work isn't quite done yet, the Newberg resident plans to publicly unveil her new mobile studio in her first "pottery pop-up shop" at The Coffee Cottage Aug. 18, concluding a four-month, family effort to overhaul the old camper.

As an arts educator in the community, Loop hopes the new studio will better position her to make a living from her work while also helping people build an appreciation of the arts through functional, every-day items like mugs, cups, plates and bowls.

Growing up in Vancouver, Wash., Loop first came to Newberg to attend George Fox University, where she also met her husband, Jamison Loop. After four years away, including three years teaching in Germany, they both now live in Newberg and work at George Fox, Jennifer as an adjunct professor teaching art history and other courses.

She also teaches youth courses for other community educational institutions, specifically at the Chehalem Cultural Center, where she said she recently took over managing the building's kiln.

While adept in other media, Loop said she's particularly drawn to ceramics — a field in which she said artists often struggle with their work being seen less as art and more as "crafts" made for a specific purpose — like a mug for drinking morning coffee — rather than observation and contemplation.GARY ALLEN - By the time it is completed, Jennifer Joy Loop and her husband will have undertaken extensive renovations to the aging travel trailer.

As an arts educator, though, Loop sees the intersection of art and craft as an asset, incorporating artistic techniques into her own functional pieces.

Regardless of whether they call it art or craft, she sees her work as a "gateway" to get the average person thinking about art and the particular qualities that appeal to that individual with something they use every day.

"If I can kind of help engage and draw in the general public to reconnect with the arts and recognize the value of the arts and the richness that having artwork and developing your aesthetic can give to you, for me, that's my purpose and my goal with staying with functional …" she said.

While she does sell her work at several area shops and will soon offer them online, Loop said the new trailer will allow her to more effectively engage with her customers about her work, explain the process and even invite them into the room where it happens.

Beyond that, the trailer will allow her to take back the parts of her kitchen and living room that are often lined with in-progress pieces while also giving her a spot to keep crafting at home without waking her 2-year-old son, Samuel, from an afternoon nap.

It also may come in handy with her eventual plans to one day pursue a master's degree, likely somewhere outside of the Pacific Northwest.

Loop will open her pop-up shop at The Coffee Cottage, 808 E. Hancock St., from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Aug. 18. She will have her trailer parked in the drive-through lane while Irish band Roughly Hewn — of which café owner Sally Mehler is a member — performs in concert.

More information on Loop's work and her studio is available at www.jenniferjoystudio.com.

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