Ceramics: Therapy and Community

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By Jack Georgis

Assistant Online Editor

Ceramic sculpting is a popular art form on campus where some students feel a sense of connection to their work and to the material. Frank Olt is a professor of ceramics and runs the ceramics studio located in the Craft Center.

“People really like to work with their head and their hands, ceramics is a very accessible medium it is resilient, and you can learn from it. It is absorbing and therapeutic,” Olt said. He is passionate about introducing students to ceramics and making sure they have a great time.

“It is not a classroom, it is a studio. It is a different environment, and that environment is a comfort zone,” Olt said. This allows there to be a sense of community between students that makes the ceramics studio a popular spot for students.

“Students come here and get so involved that this place is hopping at night when the rest of campus is closed,” Dan Christoffel, adjunct professor of art, said. “They [students] get wrapped up in something about clay that is really compelling. Once you come here, you become part of a family,” he added.

Peaceful Warrior by Maria Salazar

Maria Salazar is a senior art therapy major who frequents the ceramic studio and creates many pieces. “Ceramics is my therapy. It is a meditative space for me, and I get to forget about everything,” she said. “The possibilities are endless. It is so versatile: you can paint you can build [and] do so many techniques.”

Salazar showed a piece titled “Peaceful Warrior” that represents her Peruvian culture. “She is in the balance of listing to her heart and brain, and sometimes you have to decide what is going to move you,” Salazar said. She was previously a Marine, so there are stripes of war paint on the sculpture to represent camouflage. “She is peacefully ready to take on life,” Salazar said. Salazar will exhibit more of her art in the Sculpture Gallery on April 17 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m

Diana Roldan (‘19) is currently a student assistant at the studio. She has enjoyed creating art with clay since she was young. “I took a ceramics course at Nassau Community College, and I was able to experiment with coiling and make more functional work,” Roldan said. “Ceramics is my life; it is the way I can fully express the things that are in my head.”

Jeffrey Gomez and some of his pieces

Jeffrey Gomez is a senior art major with a concentration in ceramics. “It gave me a feeling of purpose, it is teaching a physical skill,” he said. “You are forced to give whatever is in front of you your full attention as it could fall apart at any moment.”

Emily Halper working on her piece “Beyonce”

Emily Halper is a senior art education major. “To create [from] nothing and make something so realistic that it almost feels human is a really cool feeling,” Halper said. “Not everyone has access to a facility like this, so ceramics creates a whole other excitement, and it is different,” she added. “The material feels natural and you’re connected with the art more.”

The ceramics studio is open for students to visit every day, and people are ready to help. “There’s always a coffee pot here, and tea,” Olt said.

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