“Ceramics is a very demanding discipline,” explains Bede Clarke, MU Professor of Art. Even after 35 years in the field, he says, “it still takes a lot out of me to do good work.” Clarke’s creative activity focuses on two areas. One involves the use of color and drawing and painting on clay with abstract and figurative imagery, and the other is wheel-thrown pottery fired in a wood kiln to achieve glaze effects.
Although their medium is visual, ceramics students are encouraged to articulate their experiences verbally, as well as to write about them. A fundamental part of these classes involves critique, where students present their finished products to the class, talk about their inspiration and ideas, and critically evaluate the work in terms of where it has succeeded and where it has failed. Beyond creation and evaluation, students research a topic (e.g., a culture’s ceramics or a contemporary ceramic artist) and present their findings to the class. “It’s probably my favorite part of the class,” Clarke remarks, “because they become the teachers."