We are currently in an era of art where “anything goes”, so how and why do we address craft in today’s climate? The roots of ceramics are deeply founded in the history of craft. So much so, that it is still debated if ceramics should be a fine art or craft. Granted most in academia classify ceramics as fine art, nevertheless it is often assessed on the technical craftsmanship of the work. Teaching craft in higher education ceramics courses as a foundation is the key to developing a strong body of work for many students. Craftsmanship is a vehicle that can drive experimentation and be the perfect balance between technique and content.
The postmodern to contemporary era is often associated with having no direction or need for craftsmanship. However, craftsmanship is the backbone of ceramics. Building or throwing a pot, defining the lip, trimming a foot are crucial in developing as a ceramic artist. It is these skills that allow an artist to have the confidence to experiment and explore within the medium of clay.
As an educator the key to growth in a students body of work is oftenexperimentation. It is experimentation that we in higher education value and strive to cultivate in the classroom. Often students view experimentation as a lack of craftsmanship and technical skills. It is our job to ensure that they are proficient at the technical aspect before pushing boundaries. In leading this discussion we are interested in sharing and hearing from you on how this is handled in the classroom at all levels from beginning students to graduate students.
This discussion of “Teach and Learn: The Craft Impact” has two objectives. It will both address the importance of teaching craft in higher education ceramics courses and define aspects of how to teach craftsmanship. This discussion that will be lead by Dana Tupa, professor of ceramics and chairperson of the division of visual arts at Jacksonville University, and Tiffany Leach, assistant professor of art at Jacksonville University, seeks to initiate a conversation about craftsmanship in the ceramic programs of universities across the country.