After being neighbors for years, a chance meeting at a tea tasting brought local artists Julie Berkowitz and Christine Parks together and inspired them to create Meet the Makers to share their craft with the community.
Berkowitz and Parks hosted their first Meet the Makers event on Saturday in one of the Camellia Forest Nursery greenhouses. It was an intimate event, with attendees gathered around one table. They tasted tea made by Parks from plants grown at the nursery and saw pottery made by Berkowitz.
“I just think it makes it more personal if the people that actually do it are there and you can see them and make a connection with them and talk to them about their craft,” Berkowitz said.
Kathy Hampton, a photographer who often works with Berkowitz and Parks, was one of the attendees at the event.
“I love seeing the two of them together," Hampton said. "They go so beautifully hand in hand."
Hampton said she thought the event was a great way for the two to showcase their art and that she enjoyed being surrounded by the plants in the greenhouse.
Parks said the inspiration behind the event was to build community and share their passion, and maybe have people walk away with a locally made gift for the holidays.
Even if they didn’t buy anything, Parks said she hopes people will learn something.
Both Parks and Berkowitz said they are dedicated to teaching about what they do. Berkowitz offers pottery classes and Parks has hosted workshops at the nursery.
Parks said she enjoys sharing her knowledge with people and seeing them get their hands on her tea.
“I’m hoping this will in the long term become a place where people can come more formally to learn and have easier access,” Parks said.
Parks said her passion for tea began after visiting a tea museum in China.
“And all of a sudden it clicked, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I could grow tea and learn about tea and teach tea and enjoy tea the rest of my life,'” Parks said.
Berkowitz began working with pottery in college, where she majored in art education. She said teaching art has always been a passion of hers.
Both artists expressed interest in working with UNC students. Parks currently has a student volunteer and said she would be happy to have student interns in the future. Berkowitz encouraged students to come check out her pottery classes.
Both Berkowitz and Parks said Chapel Hill is a great place to share their art.
“I really think that it’s a wonderful place to be in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and it’s why I started really wanting to reach out to the community more,” Parks said.
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