Always learning while creating: A long, rewarding path for CM art teacher

By John Hamilton - [email protected]



Courtesy photos

Some of Haines’ work.

Courtesy photos

Some of Haines’ work.

Courtesy photos

Haines displays some of his work.

Courtesy photos

WILMINGTON — A local artist and teacher is always learning and growing — as well as creating.

Nicolin “Nic” Haines, who teaches art at Clinton-Massie Middle School, has worked with ceramics and clay in a variety of styles since his college days at Bowling Green.

“I started as a painting (2D) major, but I hadn’t found my focus yet. As a requirement, you have to take a variety of classes to get exposure to different things,” said Haines.

After he saw people from the 3D art department working with the stone kiln, he made the switch from 2D art to 3D around his sophomore year.

“I wasn’t good the first time. But I was still intrigued and stuck with it,” he said. “There were some troubling times in those last few years. But my love for the medium grew.”

Since then, he’s been creating plates, bowls, cups, steins, goblets, vases, statues and much more. “I like the way it feels and the imprint I leave,” he said.

Haines said this style of art makes him feel connected to different types of cultures, though it took a while for him to find his “voice.”

“You have to stick with something to understand what your style, and craft, and skill are” he said. “After a while, I saw something very unique and I was getting somewhere. The various styles of clay are very interesting to me.”

He graduated from Bowling Green in 2011, but he still felt he needed to develop more skills. He went to do a fall study session in North Carolina for fine art mediums, an experience he described as very rewarding.

Eventually, he came back to Wilmington where he worked part-time jobs and, with the help of his parents, built a home studio. It was around 2014 that he researched and visited Kent State University.

“I looked around and I liked the studios, the atmosphere, the professors, and I got in,” he said. “It was really eye-opening, I learned a lot, and I was challenged a lot.”

It during that time he thought about becoming a college professor.

“I wanted to teach complex things and engage with the students and address questions they had,” he said.

After Kent State, he taught at Wilmington College with his mother, Michele Carr, and at the Stivers School for Art in Dayton.

He then got a rewarding residency at Cornell University, which posed a question for him: “Do you want to follow the studio art realm or continue teaching?”

His mentor at Cornell had recommended he teach K-12, which was something Haines hadn’t considered.

“A friend of mine who was already working at Clinton-Massie reached out saying they needed a long-term sub at the middle school,” he said.

Since becoming a teacher, he’s enjoyed it and enjoys passing on his knowledge to students. He’s even broadening his horizons.

“I didn’t think I would enjoy drawing as much, but I’ve been using those skills when planning my sculptures,” he said.

The best advice he can give to aspiring artists is to keep learning.

“Take as many classes as you can. Don’t think you can plateau and that’s it. Anyone can learn more. I can learn more,” he said.

“It’s always good to get gain different perspectives. No matter the medium, it’s important.”

To view Haines’ work, visit his website — — or visit his Instagram account (@nicolinbhaines).

Haines Courtesy photos

Some of Haines’ work. of Haines’ work. Courtesy photos

Some of Haines’ work. of Haines’ work. Courtesy photos

Haines displays some of his work. displays some of his work. Courtesy photos

By John Hamilton

[email protected]

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574