Ceramics at Georgia Southwestern

Published 12:59 pm Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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Keaton Wynn, Professor of Art History and Ceramics at Georgia Southwestern, gave a tour of the Art Department. Wynn showed the glaze lab, where students mix their own glazes. He talked about how students would use their creations to raise money for charity during an annual fundraiser: “We’ve done Empty Bowls for about 10 years where we sell bowls and the money goes to Harvest of Hope. So we’ve raised over about $30,000 over the past 10 years.”

Georgia Southwestern senior Lexi Glass worked on a figurative sculpture. She talked about how long she had been working with ceramics. “Just about a year and a half now. I did glassblowing for a few years before I switched my concentration to ceramics, but I’ve been doing figurative stuff since my first semester, and I’ve really been enjoying it.”

Glass talked about how she had changed her major after taking art classes. “I was actually a psychology major, and I signed up for glass blowing as my minor, and I really quickly changed my major after that. It’s just been a really kind of illuminating thing to study. I think people don’t really give it a lot of credit.”

Student Dulce Sarmiento also gave an interview as she worked on a large bowl, weaving strips of clay on the surface, making it look like a basket. She talked about her initial search for inspiration. “So every time I lie down in bed, I would think, ‘What should I do?’” She eventually found inspiration by looking back to her childhood. “We had lots of baskets growing up. We always had baskets. So I said, ‘I’ll make this kind of basket.’”

Sarmiento talked about how everything she creates is linked to her time growing up in the Philippines. “Everything is a memory of my past.”

Noah Miller was working on a tall vase at a potter’s wheel, describing his vision. “This is kind of like a totemic vessel.”

He talked about his inspiration. “I kind of pull from different parts of history. I really take into account my craft history a lot. Specifically, Peter Voulkos did a lot of stacks and stuff like this that I’m pulling from but also I love Minoan pottery.”

Miller talked about the importance of functionality. “Almost everything I make is functional. I think function is really key to grounding us in what’s real. If you look at a lot of art today, and a lot of craft today, people have been poking holes in bowls or poking holes in vases, and making meaning out of that but I think if you look at history, and what’s real and what’s happened throughout the world, the function is what gives things meaning.”

He talked about how the Empty Bowls fundraiser influenced his philosophy. “Making a functional bowl to eat out of is always good.”

Miller talked about a ceramic studio he and Glass had run at an international camp. “Lexi and I were both coheads of the studio. And so we were basically in charge of a professional studio for international students.”

He talked about how the camp drew students from across the globe.

“We had kids from Korea, and people from like Ireland, and, you know, people from all over the country as well. It was basically a full functioning studio, we had throwing, we had hand building and a couple of different kinds of kilns. We had a raku kiln and a couple of electric kilns.”

Miller talked about how the resources provided a wide range of flexibility. “So it was really like making full-fledged professional art with kids, and the kids were doing it.”

Miller mentioned that prior to coming to school, he had taught at the 567 Center for Renewal. He also detailed his future plans. “From here I plan to go to grad school. This program has given me a lot of different avenues, because essentially what Keaton focuses on is the art historical, the scholarly, academic, the craft technique, but also just the overarching meaning and how you can take that into the world. I think that Keaton has done a good job showing me that from here I can literally do anything I want, but I also have a passion for art, and a passion for making it, and I don’t think that’s every going to go away.”