Ceramics Art 360: A Night In For The Big Event

BY KIERNAN McCARTY

Last Tuesday, the Ceramics Art 360 class wrapped up their final project, compellingly titled, “The Big Event.” Ceramics professor, Linda Ganstrom, explained that “The Big Event” is a student-designed group effort for the final project in the Art 360 class. 

“This group decided to do ‘A Night In’ and they made bowls for popcorn and then smaller bowls for ice cream, but I think some people might have used those big bowls for the ice cream,” Ganstrom said. “They invite at least four friends, that’s part of the rubric, they make the pottery for those people and they bring the food and drinks and get to see their pots in action.” 

The students choose the snacks, the movie, and the friends they wanted to invite to come, dug in, and enjoyed the show. The Nightmare Before Christmas was the show put on for this go-around.

Ganstrom spoke about the powerful practicality of pottery and how the class is all about learning how to throw pots for making bowls, plates, cups, pitchers, teapots, and more. 

“They got pretty good at throwing, decorating, and doing all these beautiful glazes,” she said. 

The final project is a collective effort, coordinated by the students, to show the relevance and how fun it is to possess handmade pottery of one’s own. 

“There’s a public accountability,” she continued, to emphasize the significance of the affair, “who would you care more about than your friends and roommates to see what kind of pottery you made? It’s more important than just getting a grade on a test.” 

Ganstrom’s passion and personality, alone, make for a wonderful class experience. You can take it from her when she says, “I think that the pottery class might be the most fun you can have and get college credit. So far I haven’t heard of a class that’s any more fun.” 

But the pottery class was praised not only by Ganstrom herself, but by the participating students as well. Haleigh Raber, a photography major and student in the class, verifies this notion. 

“The environment of the class is phenomenal,” she said. 

Another student and studio art major, Jerikka Simpson said, her favorite part was learning how to throw. 

“It was a lot different than high school and having to do the slabs,” Simpson said. “Coming here and actually being able to build it on a wheel, it was a lot more difficult, but a lot of fun… If you’re a beginner in throwing it’s the perfect class.” 

What would pottery be without a little bit of elbow grease? The process of making pottery is reportedly a more physically-active art. Simpson explained the hours and labor that went into making each pottery set for her friends over the weekend.  

“I spent a whole eleven hours straight working,” she said. “It was a lot of labor because with clay you have to kind of put your back into it to mold it.” 

Ganstrom, a lover of hands-on craftsmanship, describes the whole process. 

“When you’re throwing on the potter’s wheel you have to really focus and if you take your focus off, your pot flops and it’s real messy when you first get started,” she said. “It’s kind of like snow skiing or water skiing. It’s like hand-eye coordination, it’s really physical.” 

The physical labor that goes into pot making isn’t without its pay-off, however. The tender fondness one gets from now possessing a personal, hand-made, functional object from a friend is one like no other. The student-curated Night In really showcased the beauty and permanence of pot-making and sharing the labor of love. 

“When you’re done, you put it in the kiln to sort of freeze whatever you’ve got,” Ganstrom said, “and it’ll be here until the planet melts, that’s pretty cool.”

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