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Ceramics Outcomes


Ceramics is a hybrid medium; it embraces a range of formal principles from two- and three-dimensional design, as well as the concerns of sculptural and functional art making. These complex interrelationships help define the contemporary dynamic of the medium. Students learn about the ways form addresses space. They learn about balance, stance, profile, symmetry and asymmetry, rhythm, movement and scale. Students learn about the formal issues of the vessel: the relationship of inside volume to outside form and the relationship of inside surface to outside surface. They also learn about the relationship between form and function, the importance of craftsmanship and attention to detail, color relationships and the effect of glazes and slips upon the surface of form, and how to orchestrate the two-dimensional processes of drawing and painting on a three-dimensional form.

Students learn to organize and apply the formal principles of design in the service of content. They learn to work in a self-directed manner and to define areas of personal interest. Students develop the critical insight to objectively examine their own work and the work of their peers. Students learn to write an artist statement that clearly articulates their process of making and reflects an understanding of the sources of influence within and beyond the art world. Students also learn to research artists with whom they share ideas and content. Students learn to relate their work to historical and contemporary issues.

In the throwing class students learn the sequential process of centering, opening and throwing the clay into an increasing complex range of vessel forms. In the handbuilding class students learn tile making, coil building, slab construction, mold making and slip casting techniques. Students learn the safe operation of departmental equipment including the clay mixer, slab roller, potter’s wheels, extruder, and spray booth. Students learn methods for the safe operation of gas and electric kilns. They also learn about the design and construction of these kilns. Students learn to fire their own artwork. Students are required to know the fundamental properties of ceramic materials. Once this basic knowledge is acquired, students learn to formulate and test clay bodies, glazes, and slips. Students learn to apply this technical information to developing clay bodies and glazes appropriate for their artwork. Students are required to maintain a safe studio practice and comply with the college’s environmental plan.

An integrated curriculum incorporates career preparation practices into both years of the Ceramics major. The sequence of professional experiences begins in the junior year with an emphasis on the documentation of studio work. Ceramics Majors are required to photograph work with the goal of developing a professional portfolio prior to graduation. High quality visual documentation is the basis for application to publications, exhibitions, and other professional activity. Majors are encouraged to gain professional experience by applying for juried exhibitions outside of the college. They are required to research graduate schools, artist-in-residence programs, and grant opportunities; each student then presents information to the class. Seniors are required, after reviewing a variety of formats and styles, to prepare a professional resume. Seniors are required to prepare a substantial artist statement that summarizes the process of developing their final body of work. The artist statement has proven to be a valuable component of the last semester: it is a portable document that students have regularly incorporated into applications for career opportunities. An annual field trip to an artist’s studio acquaints seniors with the realities of setting up a studio after graduation.