2009-10 OFA Flashback: Ceramics' Curricular Connections

by Ceramics

Forrest Snyder, Education Coordinator for the OFA's Ceramics Program, contributed this second of four posts chronicling a busy year at the program's studio.With the fall term underway, collaborations materialized out of Harvard’s sagacious mud. One Graduate School of Architecture course, "On the Bri(n)ck: Architecture of the Envelope," examined the role of mass-production and new construction techniques in conceptualization and fabrication. Program instructor Forrest Snyder aided a number of the students with design consideration advice, materials tests, and obtaining raw (unfired) bricks to cut on an industrial water-jet robot. Another GSD course, "CAD/CAM: Introduction to Applications in Architecture," gave students the opportunity to work in the studio over the duration of the semester. Two groups took up the challenge of customization in the context of design and production in ceramics.Later in the Term, 136 students enrolled in the new General Education curriculum course, "Anthropology 1010: The Fundamentals of Archaeological Methods & Reasoning," made their way to the Ceramics Studio to get a first-hand experience.The students were given quick introductions to ceramic materials and science, firing technology, forming methods, and decorating techniques all developed to put into context the role ceramics plays in the fundamental understanding of civilization through archaeology.Tapping an ancient but relevant ceramic technology, the Ceramics Program celebrated the inauguration of the new wood kiln, "Green Fire." The kiln, on the campus of the Noble and Greenough School, fired very efficiently, reaching 2400 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 12 hours! Led by Japanese kiln builder and artist Kusakabe Masakazu, with assistant Kate Lewis, the kiln fired three times. Highlights also included a memorial dedication to longtime Ceramics Program instructor Makato Yabe, a tea ceremony, and lots of epicurean food.October welcomed two unique perspectives with visiting artists Kawabata Kentaro, who demonstrated and gave a presentation on his porcelain work with embedded color glass, and porcelain artist John Oles spoke of his own work and creative process.

Ceramics Program Director Nancy Selvage was celebrated as she "graduated" into retirement at the conclusion of the fall term. For more than 30 years, Nancy taught and influenced hundreds of developing artists, organized symposia on topics ranging from "Pueblo Potters from the American Southwest" to "Islamic Ceramic Traditions," and developed a national and international reputation for the Program.

The fall term culminated in an exceptionally successful Holiday Show and Sale in December. The 20-degree winds couldn’t keep patrons away! Work ranged from utilitarian to one-of-a-kind sculptures. All in all, 70 artists participated, setting a record for sales, which benefited the studio and enriched the lives of hundreds.

[Caption: Paddling ]

[Caption: bowl by John Oles]

[Caption: A great time was had by all at the Celebration of Nancy Selvage. from left: Nancy Selvage (in purple jacket) talks with a friend, Paul McLoughlin and Eric Engel]

[Caption: The line waiting to get into the Spring Show & Sale]