Westminster Students Install Ceramics Wall, Recreate Works of Historic Artists

Jul 29, 2015

DSC_3319July 28, 2015 SALT LAKE CITY - Inspired by the works of sculptors like Beatrice Wood, Ruth Duckworth and Peter Voulkos, Westminster ceramics students erected a 22-foot-long art installation on campus July 28. As part of Westminster's May Term Narrative Ceramic Tile class, 19 students helped create the installation, which is now attached to the 40-foot wall in front of the Dolores Doré Eccles Ceramics Center. Assistant art professor Clayton Keyes and pottery assistant Leann Peterson honchoed the effort, which took two days to mount. The installation will be completed in a two-part process, with the first part highlighting artists from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The second installation, which will be created by students in the 2016 May Term ceramics class, will showcase artists from the late 1950s to modern day. At the beginning of the course, Keyes helped motivate the students to sculpt by showing them a presentation of historic artists. "I showed the students a slide show of artists who were integral players throughout ceramic history during that time period and the art that typified that work," Keyes said. "Students chose artists that related to them, recreated their work, spent time doing research on their own and found the artwork they wanted to recreate. Once the students created their work, we took those pieces and drew out on the board the composition of the wall, made a maquette-a small 3D rough sketch-and started laying out over 2,000 pounds of clay and sculpting." Ashish Patel, a junior and business management major, was inspired by the works of Beatrice Wood and recreated several of her pieces for the installation. "Her work is shiny and glazed, and I really like raku," Patel said. "This project was really fun, and we had never done something like this before. I'm now thinking of doing a minor in arts. The class inspired me and the professors who teach the class are really good." Out of the 19 students who took the course, two-thirds had never actually taken a sculpting class before. "This is kind of new for all of us," said senior Chase Stoddard. "This is the first time any of us had done something of this scale." Although many of his classmates were not artists, Stoddard, an aviation major, cultivated a love for pottery even before attending college. "During my senior year of high school, I turned into kind of a pottery junkie," said Stoddard. "It wasn't anything super new for me, it was just continuing something I had already found a passion for." Both Stoddard and Patel were excited to be a part of something that would be a permanent fixture on campus. "As a whole, the college should be super excited to see art that's student-made going up on campus-I think that's really cool," said Stoddard. "I was also excited about installing something that was going to be more permanent on campus rather than just making something for myself. A lot of these kids had never done ceramics before and just jumped in. Clearly, there is a lot of talent on campus that we don't know about, and now everyone's going to be able to see that in a big way." Prior to the May Term class and Keyes's arrival to Westminster, much of the emphasis within the ceramics program had been focused on pottery. Keyes hopes to expand the campus community's understanding of the program, and attract students who are interested in all types of artistic works. "There's this very functional, utilitarian idea that people have about clay, which is very important, but we are also trying to show that there's more to it, and that we are embracing all of that," said Keyes. "I'm hoping we can show people that there's a little bit more going on over here. All of the students who took this class told me they were really surprised; that they expected to make little flat tiles, and thought it was really cool when they started to do sculptures." "Clayton and Leanne are doing so much to make the ceramics program a bigger presence on campus and something that we can all be excited about," added Stoddard. "I only have a year left, and I'm bummed out [that I'm leaving]. However, for these upcoming underclassmen and kids that aren't even here yet, this installation and program are something they can be a part of."

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About Westminster

Westminster is a private, independent, and comprehensive college in Salt Lake City, Utah. Students experience the liberal arts blended with professional programs in an atmosphere dedicated to civic engagement. With the goal of enabling its graduates to live vibrant, just, and successful lives, Westminster provides transformational learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students in a truly student-centered environment. Faculty focus on teaching, learning, and developing distinctive, innovative programs, while students thrive on Westminster’s urban Sugar House campus within minutes of the Rocky Mountains.

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