In this intensive summer course students studied pottery from around the world by making reproductions and interpretations. I did a similar assignment in my grad seminar and found it to be very helpful. I think Julia is doing a week long workshop at Haystack this summer that is a variation on this theme. Check it out if you can.
Julia Galloway's Statement about the class. For more information Click Here.
Some years ago I had a dream about walking through the history of ceramics. I wanted to stand in a room and see how pottery changes over the years, through different countries, and see the influences of trade and natural resources. I wanted to see whole in front of me what I understood in bits and pieces. Hence, the "Making History" course was born. I decided to teach a class where students would make historical pottery; they would research the building techniques, clays and glazes of iconographic pottery from all over the world. They would make these objects to understand, to learn how to see, and to learn how to make. I wanted the students to work on something outside of themselves; work not based on their own self-expression or ego, but based simply on learning through making and through researching, and on the sheer pleasure of re-discovering things that have come before. This study would culminate in a large-scale exhibition of all of these objects, arranged within a timeline and within geographical relationships.
I am in no way an historian. I am easily seduced by what something looks like, and have a modest understanding of the culture behind all of these pots. To teach a class like this, I needed a co-pilot who had taught ceramic history and who also had tremendous facility with clay and a broad knowledge of ceramics. Luckily, Margaret Bohls was willing to undertake this adventure and joined me in Halifax in early July 2008. Her knowledge of ceramic history is superb and her studio ceramics knowledge is extensive. The success of the course comes from her experience and good nature. Throughout the course, Margaret gave a series of 1-2 hour slide lectures moving across the geography and chronology of ceramics. She grounded all of the wild making of pottery within a context.
We selected objects that represent important cultural developments, specific time periods, or that are simply really beautiful pots. At first we divided up the objects that the students would make by technique: unglazed earthenware, tin-glazed ware, stoneware, blue-and-white ware and porcelains. This allowed students to work in groups and share technical and cultural information.