Chico Junior High’s library mirrors a hip book store, decorated with colorful art and inspirational messages. A trickling fountain sits on the front desk, and soft music wafts in the background. This creative atmosphere is the work of one very artistic senior library media assistant, Janice Hofmann. For the past three years, Hofmann has translated her love of the written word into fun art projects to help facilitate and enhance students’ reading skills. However, she is also an entrepreneur: About a year ago, she opened All Fired Up, an open ceramic studio for clay enthusiasts and curious artists, at 830 Broadway. Hofmann moved to Chico when she was 16, leaving at 19 to travel the world. She ended up staying in Ireland, where she was one of the country’s only belly dancers, for 16 years. She returned to Chico in 1993. For 10 years she worked within the district, starting as office manager at Cohasset and Jay Partridge elementary schools and then in human resources at the district office.
Is anything new at the library this school year?
An exciting new program is being implemented from money from the 21st Century grant, which supports at-risk and low-income students. The library will now be open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. to provide access to extra enrichment as well as academic help for students who have nowhere else to go. I’m hoping to include creative works such as drama, fine art and teamwork building into the program.
What motivated you to start All Fired Up on top of your librarian duties?
I always wanted to be self-employed, but the catalyst for the decision was that there was no place where people could buy supplies, learn and try ceramic art or show their work in Chico. Clay is messy and requires a kiln and a studio. I wanted to offer artists a place where they could display their art permanently. They pay $15 a month to use the facilities and show their work. Right now we have sculptures and paintings by 22 local artists.
Do you ever get to incorporate your love of ceramics with the kids?
At Chapman Elementary we did a clay workshop with 130 kids and had an absolute blast. Here we do a lot of tile work and arts and crafts. Students even created two beautifully decorated tables with clay-tile drawings of different reading influences.
How do the students influence your art?
Working with the kids adds humor to it. It’s so easy to be negative these days, but being around students helps me see the lighter side by leaning toward optimism and beauty.