SCSU Ceramic Collection an inspiration for many students

Jessica GuerrucciReporter

Southern’s ceramic collection features a wide range of artists from across the globe, several different styles of art, and gives students an opportunity to learn.

The ceramic exhibition is on display in the art gallery in the basement of Buley Library from Jan. 30 to Mar. 28. Cort Sierpinski, the gallery director and ceramics professor, said the collection includes 60 different pieces, each one created in a unique way.

“We have functional pieces, sculptural pieces, and pieces from different firing methods, different types of clay,” said Sierpinski. “So, the whole point of that was to also use it as an educational tool for our own ceramic program.”

Sierpinski said the collection was started 50 years ago by Mary Lou Alberetti, who taught ceramics, and originally intended it to be a women’s ceramic artist collection, and it was not till later than it expanded out.

“Over the years, even before she left, the collection started to evolve outside of just women artists, and pretty much just anything we saw that we thought added to the breath of the collection,” said Sierpinski.

Terrance Lavin, chairperson of the art department, said the collection is an opportunity for students to be up close to and see how a successful piece of pottery was created.

“That particular exhibition is a pretty interesting collection, and for anybody that is interested in ceramics, it is a really incredible diversity of forms, of surfaces, of textures, of techniques, processes, I mean there is a wealth of information in there for anyone who is interested in studying ceramics,” said Lavin.

In addition to having the ceramics collection in the gallery, Lavin said students have access to the art in the ceramics studio where they can pick things up and get a closer look.

Amy Guo, a studio art major with a concentration in graphic design, said the exhibition is a great way for students to learn, regardless of what kind of art they are interested in.

“Having a background in a lot of things, like no matter what you’re doing, writing, drawing, music, like whatever, going out and seeing what is there builds your background,” said Guo. “It gives you material to work off, even if it is not directly related to what you are doing.”

Guo said in her free time she does character design, but at school she does still life design. She said she has a limited background in ceramics but looking at the pieces gave her inspiration.

Kulsoom Farid, a graphic design major, said she likes to create logos. However, she is currently in a ceramic class and using hand-building techniques, which is the same method used for several items in the gallery.

“We’re creating things that are very similar to what is down there. Like the trays and teapots, that is what we are creating in my class right now,” said Farid.

Sierpinski said that the art gallery should show students there is not just one way to create art. Creating something different is what makes it interesting.

“Students can see a plate doesn’t just have to be a round flat form, so when they approach an assignment for something that is functional, there are a lot of different ways of approaching it that are beyond traditional work and conventional approach,” said Sierpinski.

Without a full time, gallery director, Sierpinski said the goal is to keep the space running with exhibits and continue to have high quality shows.

“We are really hoping this is the start of a more professional space that the university will continue to support,” said Sierpinski. “We are really pretty pleased so far.”

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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