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Functional Work Designs for Ceramics

Last Updated on October 18, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Originally published October 18, 2017

By Dina Edens

Senior Studio Art Major

In UTEP’s Department of Art, students are encouraged to seek learning experiences beyond the University. I had the wonderful opportunity to attend four different learning experiences this summer throughout the United States. One of them was the Ceramics Workshop in June at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, Colorado. Dan Murphy taught us about “The Structure of Pots.”

Functional Work Designs for Ceramics
Functional Work Designs for Ceramics

This two-week workshop was a complete hands-on experience in which students learned about functional work design and the consideration of all of the elements that make a pot.

Our instructor gave us demonstrations every day and then we had time on our pottery wheels for our own individual work. We were able to bisque our pots and glaze them in an atmospheric wood kiln. We learned new techniques that opened our eyes to important decisions we need to address as we think of how to design a functional ceramic item. That includes learning the kinds of tools we will need to produce and fabricate them ourselves.

While at Anderson Ranch, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend art gallery openings, visit art studios, art centers and artists’ homes in and around Aspen and Carbondale. It was great to work with well-known professional artists at the ranch and to visit other workshops scheduled at the same time in the areas of painting, photography, woodworking and printmaking, to mention a few.

I was part of the monthly Auctionette where participants raise funds for center scholarships. I contributed a ceramic piece I made at the workshop. It is exciting and fulfilling to know you can make a difference and help other students with your work.

These experiences allowed me to work on techniques and a specific subject in an intensive hands-on way. I learned and grew so much. My skills are stronger and I grew exponentially through my exposure to alternative and intensive leaning experiences.

It was great to talk to other students, professors and professional artist about alternatives after I earn my BFA. I am a teacher’s assistant in the UTEP Fine Arts Ceramic Studio. I am considering a master’s degree, residencies, internships, assistantships, fellowships, teaching at a professional level and more. One should evaluate which is the best fit to continue their growth as a professional artist.