Molding student artists

Exhibit: Ceramics teachers and their apprentices will show their works at the Howard County Board of Education's Exhibition Hall.

August 26, 1999|By Jill Hudson Neal | Jill Hudson Neal,SUN STAFF

For centuries, ceramic artists have told stories through clay. They have passed on their love of working with clay to their students, taking time to help mold the next generation of artists.

A new exhibition of pottery, sculpture, wall pieces and decorative vessels by today's clay artists and their apprentices will open Monday at the Howard County Board of Education's Exhibition Hall.

The show, "Teaching & Talking Through the Clay: Artist-Teachers & Their Students," is a partnership between the Board of Education's visual arts department and Baltimore Clayworks, a nonprofit ceramic art center in Mount Washington.

About 30 artists from across the region (many of whom are members of Baltimore Clayworks) asked their most promising students to show their works in the exhibition, which runs through Oct. 1. Participation in the exhibit was not limited to Howard County art teachers or students.

Patrick Timothy Caughy, who teaches art at Fulton Elementary School in North Laurel and is curator of the exhibit, said many of the artists have a connection to Howard County.

"Most of the people have either studied or exhibited in the county," said Caughy, who has a piece in the show along with one of his students, Anthony Stellaccio. "But more important, the art is about the relationship between teachers and students working in clay, so it seems like an appropriate place to show this work.

"We looked for work that had poetry," Caughy said of the students who were asked to participate. "This wasn't simply about making pumpkins in October. We were interested in integrating art and clay as a language."

While ceramics usually are shown in galleries (where they often are placed on pedestals), the clay works for this show will be arranged on tables and hung on walls to best use the hall's natural light and long, open corridor.

The works in the show range from practical decorative vases to allegorical wall hangings and interpretive sculpture. But every piece explores the expressive power of working with clay.

Artist Terry Whye, who gives private instruction at her studio in Finksburg, has taught many talented young students. One of Whye's apprentices, 17-year-old Celeste Bloom, will show with her in the exhibition.

"It's a real treat to watch your students grow up and mature in their art as well as their lives," Whye said. "It seems that I've become more than just an art teacher and ceramics instructor. You really have an opportunity to become a mentor if you choose."

The bond between teachers and students can become very focused because the training is literally hands-on. Strong relationships often develop, Whye said.

"I find it a very pleasant thing to provide inspiration to students about their art, but also to provide an example of how to live in a very artful way. It's been a real privilege to watch her [Celeste] grow," Whye said.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, Whye and Celeste both have chosen to exhibit sculpture from their repertoire that depict female figures emerging from elemental structures.

That synergy between teachers and their pupils is a theme that runs through the exhibition.

Samuel Wallace, who has taught clay works in Howard County schools over the years, and his student, Tracey C. Boykin, created large, colorful "umbrella" vases in the show. The vases complement each other and work well as a team, just as the artist-teachers and their students do.

"It's a great idea to see teachers and students in mentorship together," said Barry Shauck, instructional facilitator for the visual arts for the Howard County public school system. Shauck hopes the clay exhibit will bring more people to the exhibition hall, which has been host of art exhibits for more than 20 years.

Baltimore Clayworks plans to have an exhibition in the near future featuring Howard County artists, Caughy said.

"Teaching & Talking Through the Clay: Artist-Teachers & Their Students" begins Monday at the Howard County Board of Education, 10910 Route 108, Ellicott City. Gallery hours are from 8: 30 a.m. to 4: 30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Information: 410-313-6634.

Pub Date: 8/26/99

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