Student work showcased at annual invitational

"The Miner" by Caitlin Smith. Photo by Nick Foote

The Student Union Gallery kicks off the Spring 2012 semester with an invitational. Claybody Ceramic Invitational, an annual show in the gallery, features high quality ceramic works made by students in the Fall 2011 semester. Works were chosen by professors based on the quality of their concepts, execution, construction, and overall appeal.

For one student, Jean Pierre Lee, a senior pre fine arts major, it’s the first time he’s been chosen to show his work in Claybody.

“It feels pretty special actually” he said. “I think the quality of the work in all of this is very high, and great to be a part of.”

Lee’s piece is a conceptualized giraffe. His assignment was to create a piece around a found object, which ended up being an antique wooden washing stick that was eventually used as the giraffe’s neck. Kiln used to fire the clay can only fit forms a maximum of 27 inches tall, so the giraffe was made in pieces, and later assembled with thick wooden spokes.

“[the spokes] developed as a combination of a challenge to build a piece that large of a size, and then also being able to make the piece work structurally,” said Lee.

"A Fleeting Affair" by Sara Henry. Photo by Nick Foote

This is the second Claybody that fine arts major Cassandra Burton, now a senior, was invited to show in. Burton created a ceramic toy gun with a string and ball attached. Like Lee’s piece, Burton’s piece revolves around found objects. Her object was a cup and ball toy.

“I was trying to play the game and kept on hitting myself with it, so I figured it’d make a good weapon,” said Burton. “I figured that children like to play with toy guns, and that using the cup and ball would be symbolic of real guns.”

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“The Miner,” featured on the fliers for the Claybody show, was created by Caitlyn Smith, also a fine arts senior. “The Miner” was conceptualized when Smith was watching “October Sky,” a movie set in a mining community. The piece was originally supposed to include a headlamp on the helmet, but that didn’t blend with the rest of the work as Smith had hoped, so he went without.

“I think even without the flashlight, you still get the sense of a coal miner being very much blind in his job,” said Smith. The bust features empty eye sockets to convey this concept.

Smith is also showing a second piece in Claybody called “Weasel Nightmare,” which was created for an assignment dealing with memories from a child’s perspective. “Weasel Nightmare” features a figure of a frightened little girl standing across from a weasel of approximately the same size.

“That piece is inspired by a recurring nightmare I had as a child, and it involved a weasel,” Smith said with a laugh.

Trefoil by Chelsea Ruwe. Photo by Nick Foote.


Claybody Ceramic Invitational runs in the Student Union Gallery until Thursday, February 2, 2012.