Ceramics Exhibit: a collection featuring southern artists


Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter

Since the 1970s, the Ceramics Exhibit has accentuated Southern’s vast art collection: the pieces displayed are those that have not received much exposure as well as those that are considered fan favorites said Gregory Cochenet, ceramics professor.

Cochenet added that Southern has over 100 pieces in their collection overall and about 20 artists are featured in the John Lyman Center for the Performing Arts exhibit.

Cochenet said a portion of the proceeds from the “Annual Holiday Pottery Sale” go directly towards buying new pieces for Southern’s ceramic collection. The pieces are purchased when students and faculty attend the annual National Council for the Education of Ceramic Arts, NCECA Conference. There, they select pieces that will potentially stand out from the rest of their collection.

“Pieces that are interesting to us and we just visually respond to, if there’s a case that we have too many pieces that we are looking up, we will think of what pieces in the collection might be similar to what we’re looking at and choose pieces what would add to the collection,” said Cochenet. “Display and storage of our collection is pushing or collection more towards vessel based and small-scale objects.  We have a lot of functional vessels, we’re trying to get more small scale sculptures and non-functional items. It has to catch our eye; it has to be interesting to us.”

Cochenet said the location for the NCECA Conference changes every year: last year the conference was in Kansas City, Missouri, while next year it will be in Portland, Oregon.

Cort Sierpinski, ceramics professor, said the exhibit will be open for about a month and allows students, especially at the interim level, to expand their knowledge in reference to ceramics education.

“So many of them, especially if they’re not majors, and we deal with a lot of those in these classes, have a certain idea of what ceramics is: more functional items, things that they eat off of, vase forms,” said Sierpinski. “So what we try to do with the collection is buy pieces, balance out between functional and more sculptural work, so it’s to see what possibilities exist in the interim classes.”

Even after the Lyman Exhibit is closed, a portion of Southern’s ceramic collection is always on display in Earl Hall and is available to view upon request.

Tessa Junas, senior ceramics major and Ceramics Department university assistant, said it was her first year assisting in the exhibit, along with Cochenet and Josephine Rossomando. Through helping them organize it, she was acquainted with how to establish events and shows such as these herself.

“It was really interesting because I got to learn how to set up a show,” said Junas, “what goes into that, figure out where everything goes, what the names of the artists are, the different values of the different pieces.”

Junas added the galleries displayed in Earl oftentimes inspire students in their own creative projects as well as inspire success.  

“We keep a lot of the artwork on display in the rooms so people can gather different ideas from it,” said Junas. “Basically, just see, ‘hey this is stuff that we think is worth showing,’ because each piece is individual, it’s special, it’s got great, different qualities, and artists, and there’s a range of different things you can pull from to be inspired by, and shows people that you can actually do this. The pieces that they’re making are important and someday someone may want to buy it and put it in their own exhibit.”

Photo Credit: Melissa Nunez – General Assignment Reporter

PHOTO: Sculpture by Debra Olivia.

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