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Is This The Norm In Arts Education?

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I was flummoxed to hear a newly graduated teacher at the local High School tell me she has a Masters in fine arts with am emphasis in Ceramics. She has never thrown on a wheel, there is no wheel in the University arts program she just graduated from, and she was not familiar with the names Beatrice Woods or Otto Heino. I do not have any of her credentials, but I was dismayed. Would you have been?

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I personally don't have a major in ceramics but I had to google who were Beatrice Woods and Otto Heino  :ph34r:

But I don't think that not knowing the major potters makes her a less skilled ceramist. Maybe she is super talented in hand-building? 

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In undergrad and grad work, it is possible to get a Masters in Ed without doing anything on the wheel. If she hand builds well, OK, but then I believe if you are going to "teach" ceramics in a HS situation and have the budget/access to a potters wheel, you should teach it. I remember when I was working as a mentor for a student teacher years ago that she was disastrous on the wheel. I found this out the first week of after school work. So for several weeks, I improved her throwing skills one on one til she was proficient enough to demonstrate throw a 3 lb bowl, cylinder and plate. Demo throw to me is to be able to do it 100% of the time. I believe that the loss of even 1% could lose a class as your skills will be viewed as faulty.

 

As to history of ceramic artists, sadly enough most colleges do not cover crafts in the art history courses. The covered work is usually in the Fine Arts, but very little in the crafts. We had some of this when in Ceramics classes, but often the pots were shown as an example of a technique, but not name mentioned. I often would cover pots in ceramics, and talk about the names, the people I had read about, seen in person, and some that I had met. Whenever, I was at a demonstration that had a new or interesting technique I would try to bring it back to the classroom.

 

best,

Pres

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when i worked in manhattan, i used the studio space at what had been Parsons school of design.  you youngsters probably never heard of it.  anyhow, the emphasis at that time was to train designers for the major commercial china companies who made dishes and tableware for the public.  students were taught how to make poured ceramic wares and never touched a wheel.  maybe not even a slab of actual clay, just pouring slip.

 

some poor girl came running into the wheel room one evening begging for help.  i went to see the problem and she had poured a bucket of wet plaster into the sink because she made too much of it for the small item she wanted to do.  about 3 inches of set plaster was in the sink, hardening.  nobody ever told her not to do that.

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I was flummoxed to hear a newly graduated teacher at the local High School tell me she has a Masters in fine arts with am emphasis in Ceramics. She has never thrown on a wheel, there is no wheel in the University arts program she just graduated from, and she was not familiar with the names Beatrice Woods or Otto Heino. I do not have any of her credentials, but I was dismayed. Would you have been?

This is not surprising. There is not much reflection on the past from certain regions. -Beatrice Woods , Mama Of Dada ( great video, and Sometimes I Shock Myself, great autobiography)  is an amazing study of the Art Movements in France in the early 20th Century.. Otto and Vivid Heino were makers since the 1940s in US from Europe who immigrated due to WWII. Not edgy in this day and age unfortunately. I met them in NH at their studio in the 1970s. My instructor, Bill Daley didn't throw. We got some throwing instruction from Paula Winokur who was hired to teach us throwing.She later became more of a ceramics sculptor and feature d work focusing on Global warming in the last few NCECAs. In the 1980s people like Anita Ellis and Kenneth Trapp wrote some great Ceramic Art History books. After their books and Garth Clark's 100 Years of American Cermics, Ceramic Art History developed into courses and a discipline.  I taught it in four different institutions including Tashkent institute of the Arts, UH Hawaii as a portion of Intro to ceramics, UT Brownsville, and Montana State University-Billings. It is a vast field to cover. I also taught Women in Art, Beatrice Wood was never mentioned in mainstream art history classes nor were many women when I was a student in the 60s. That developed in the 80s along. Garth Clark brought her to light.

Trapp went on to be the Curator or Director at the Renwick. Peter Held was at the Holter in Helena, MT  working with many who went through the Bray and then ran the Ceramics research center in Tempe at the University there. I can't say all MFA programs bring art history into the course or if they do, there is a lot to cover. I always included slides of Ceramics from history in my ceramics courses before each project. I can 't say what is the norm today. I can say that education in the US is not what it use to be. If there is a HS art teacher in the HS that is good news. Many places have dropped art altogether.

Marcia

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The only ceramic artist I remember studying in art history was a ancient Greek potter famous for his detailed designs.  I studied women potters on my on, but I only have a Bachelors degree, maybe the Masters program concentrated more on history. The head professor collected pottery from the civil war era so he was always showing slides of his collection.  Marcia is right about art disappearing in schools, my son went to a private school because of a speech problems.   The school was big into theater but not art in the classroom.  I would volunteer to do a clay project with the class every year,  I would bring all of the supplies and supervise the chaos.  I would bisque the work and have another session to glaze it, I would bring the work back by Christmas.  I had one teacher turn me down, she said the children would be to busy learning math.  I felt sorry for the children in her class.    Denice

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I attended a tech school clay program for 2 years and there was a required class, History of Pottery. When I wandered into Otto's hometown , 6 months into my clay experience,I knew what an opportunity I had stumbled into. I was fortunate enough to spend a day with Otto.

I have zero art education from college, and I just seemed strange to me that someone who had specialized in ceramics in college didn't have knowledge of this.

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when i worked in manhattan, i used the studio space at what had been Parsons school of design.  you youngsters probably never heard of it. 

 

I heard of it, my brother graduated from there, the school is still around

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I once worked in a therapeutic setting, where one of my co-educators was a graduate of an arts college, her course modules consisting entirely of ceramics. She couldn't throw, couldn't hand-build, couldn't fire a kiln, had not even the most basic knowledge of materials or processes, and yet somehow still acquired her degree. She told me that she undertook the ceramics course (rather than fine arts) because the tutors were dishy, and 'accessible'.

She's lived off that degree ever since, without even first principles to back up the ink on her curriculum vitae.

Quite how you could do a 3 year course and gain no knowledge at all (and presumably not be interested in the slightest) is utterly beyond me.

The arts college was one of many that have now closed in the UK - I happen to know that the course itself was first rate, and in high demand.

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how you could do a 3 year course and gain no knowledge at all (and presumably not be interested in the slightest) is utterly beyond me.

 

Sadly it happens all the time in many fields of study and is not only limited to a 3 year course of study.

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Parsons had some exemplary faculty like Jack Lenor Larson, fabric designer.

 

I knew Gladys Toulis, the former director of the School of Fashion Design at Kent State and of Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, she was a wonderful woman with an amazing history.

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not knowing Beatrice Wood and Otto Heino may not be so unusual. More shocking might be if she hadn't heard of super starts like Betty Woodman, Robert Arneson, Kenneth Price, Viola Frey, Patti Warashina, and they are several generations ago.

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Not surprised at all-We have local collage instructor (Fine arts degree MFA) who cannot throw on a wheel and teaches wheel throwing-go figure.

I will add that students feel they are getting short changed in her class.

Not knowing the past seems to be the norm these days.

I'm thinking of just buying a 3 d printer  myself and having all my production done with that-no need to touch clay anymore right?

I'm glad I have a few Otto Heino pots and a story about Patty Warashina dancing in my kitchen back in the day but really -nowadays I think most could care less about the past.If its not on your phone its not real right?

GEP, What? and Pres like this

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Mark,

I met Vivika and Otto when they were still in NH in 1971. I have met Patti several times in Montana. She is great!

 We're lucky to have known them. There are some really great new potters , but schools and education have changed quite a lot. Can't see you going 100% digital by 3d printing and no touching. It loses too much by that removal.

Right?

Although, it is easier on the wrists.

Marcia

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I was just kidding on the printer -I long for the day to see any of my products knocked off- The glazes the durability the feel-They have not done it in China yet. I think it is still a decade or two away._I'll be gone by then.

 

I have yet to see any new art show potters breaking out big time at any of my shows-they just are not there .

I have a kiln load cooling right now with Vivikas glazes from my workshop with here back in the day.

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I don't have my masters just a bfa with a ceramic concentration. We had to both hand building and wheel in the beginning class but there after could choose to focus on one or the other or both. I started focus on the wheel and it is my love but also took directed studies where i wished to explore certain handbuilt projects and started to incorporate both in one piece. There was no way in my program to have escaped being exposed to the wheel or handbuilding.

 

Now basic art history courses was a whole other matter. Very little ceramic exposure in most my art history basic courses. I remember in Survey the clay bisons found in that French cave made by prehistoric man, a fertility goddess, a slide of some greek vessel, then fast forward not much mentioned til modern art and the vagina plates and that cast cat installation. Then you got to specialize in the art history of your choice, i took art and arch of mesoamerica and also art and arch of the incas...they both were very pottery filled. I also had to take class outside of art and went with anthropology and managed to snag a summer native american course that was full of pots too.

 

So i would think if someone managed to go thru university with a mfa with a ceramic concentration and not know how to make pottery either the school an idiot or the student was. Now i actually could see someone not knowing some of the more wellknown potters as you had to seek the info and the info was not provided in the survey courses. I learned about well known potter from spending time in the library stacks reading old ceramic monthlys and studio potter magazines.

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I was just kidding on the printer -I long for the day to see any of my products knocked off- The glazes the durability the feel-They have not done it in China yet. I think it is still a decade or two away._I'll be gone by then.

 

I have yet to see any new art show potters breaking out big time at any of my shows-they just are not there .

I have a kiln load cooling right now with Vivikas glazes from my workshop with here back in the day.

I loved seeing their kiln with all the kiln gods on the arch support around the top. I did the same to my kilns when I was teaching.  They were inspirational. Met Gerry Williams on the same day we were visiting studios in New Hampshire./Vermont from Boston.

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Your experiences do create who you are.  I was a math student but had to take the required Art Appreciation class in college.  Well when everyone else was studying the art masters, my professors idea was students had to try different art mediums and produce a project in each one.  I would not have ever even known what a wheel was if not for that class.  I threw a very thick 6" bottle with a thin neck and never forgot the experience.  (Still have it somewhere).  After 40 yrs I had an opportunity to try clay again and it is everything I remembered.  It is dang....FUN.  I now have a wheel and kiln in my garage, access to a great art center and enjoy the potters social life.   Never underestimate what we give and take from life experiences.

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I have one that is more of a coffee table book. It is called The Pot Book, Edmund De Waal, Phaidon Press.ISBN 978-0-7148-4799-3. It is a good book that covers artists, schools and movements through history. Each page is filled with a 2/3rds page color image, and a brief concise history/description. 

 

 

best,

Pres

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carl, if you can find the ones printed back in the 70s, especially the textbooks, they mostly started with a few pages describing work from egypt, greece, rome etc.  the basic education on clays and how to make simple things.  the equipment pages showed such modern things as electric kilns but the concentration assumed the reader would be gas firing to cone 10.

 

photos included shots of work by most of the potters working at that time.  leach, hamada, cardew, woodman, duckworth, etc.  and ceramics monthly showed them all at one time or another.  it was a comprehensive magazine at the time.  their change to today's format  was fairly recent.  i have stacks of the old issues from the 70s onward.

 

there was a discussion of books here several years ago that mentioned them by name.

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carl, if you can find the ones printed back in the 70s

 

The problem I have with older books and magazines is the quality of photos... so many are in B&W and aren't that sharp.  Modern printing has come a long way.

 

There was a day I'd welcome scrounging for old books or magazines, but now days, I just want to buy something off Amazon and be done.  Ideally, it'd be in ebook form, but that seems not all that common for these kind of books.

 

The book Pres recommended sounds like a good place to start... easy to get from Amazon, not terribly expensive.  (It's really amazing to me how little general interest there is in pottery, but how many *books* have been written about its history and artists.)

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I also googled Beatrice Wood and Otto Heino. I did major in art (education to teach k-12 art) and wasn’t familiar with their contribution to the development of pottery as an art form.

I also dug out a couple of my old Art History books and a very old ceramic text book from my college days. The Art history books, (the newest published in 1996) did not mention Wood or Heino. Neither did the text book published in 1965 which I had to buy for my pottery class. In the books I checked, the potters mentioned were Peter Voulkos, Paul Soldner, the southwest pueblo potters, and Benard Leach.

The pottery text book had many examples of ancient pottery as well as photos of pieces from potters around the world selected to cover the topic discussed.

 

My education didn't end after I received my B.A and M.A. I spent countless hours researching my classes.

 

If you feel there is a gap in someone's education, politely fill it by sharing your knowledge.

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Garth Clark's "100 years of American Ceramics" was a major ground breaker when it was published in 1980 or so. The Johnson and Johnson collection from the museum in  Racine Wisconsin published a catalogue "Objects USA" in maybe the 70s. Both were significant. 

There was a show from the ND School of Mines with Arts and Crafts style work by women similar to Grueby, Pewabic,  or Newcomb Pottery. Penland has put out books featuring potters, jewelers, wool workers in different volumes. Studio Potter magazine was good at covering potters.  Robert Arneson's Retrospect from SFMOMA was amazing, 

Michael Lucero, many sculptors are covered.

Cataogues from shows cover lots of territory. The Pot Book Pres mentions is a good one.

 

Marcia

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