Students Study Culture, Create Art with Ancient Methods
by Howard W. Hewitt
May 4, 2005
Wabash College students enrolled in
Art 123 this spring studied ancient cultures and primitive ways to create
the useful tools that now double as art. (Click on photo album
at bottom of page.)
The class culminated May 3 with a primitive firing of ceramics created
by the class. A handful of Professor
Doug Calisch’s class waited 21 hours to dig their creations from
beneath the kindling and fuels to see if the primitive process worked.
"The study of ceramics is both the study of aesthetic design and
function," Calisch explained. "In order to understand the relationship
of the two, each student researches a culture from North, Central, or
South America in order to determine the extent to which design, ritual,
firing techniques, and function are related in a particular culture."
Over the past weeks the students researched a primitive native culture
and used their research to mimic various ceramic works native to the
culture of their interest.
The primitive firing of the works was the culmination of the of study.
"We simulate a primitive firing technique complete with indigenous fuels
(cow patties) and try to achieve the results of the chosen cultures.
It’s a humbling experience."
Uncovering one of the fire pits Wednesday morning was perhaps a
disappointing experience for some of the young artists. Perhaps a third
of more of the works were damaged and broken during the overnight firing.
The primitive firing technique has been used in many cultures, Calisch
explained. The practice is still used in some areas today.
Hewitt is Wabash College's Director of New Media/Web Editor.
At top right: Students prepare to remove the burnt ashes and dung
which fired their ceramic creations.
Lower left: Patrick Beyemer puts a wax coat on his ceramic cup,
which suffered some damage in the firing process.
The photos taken before the pottery was fired courtesy of Doug
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