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Archive for the ‘Staff’ Category

Rosanna Bonnet

Rosanna Bonnet Tile

Rosanna Bonnet was born in Santo Domingo de Guzmán, the capital city of the Dominican Republic and the oldest continuously populated city in the New World. 

Bonnet began her artistic studies in architecture and later switched to graphic design, attending the Altos de Chavon School of Design in the Dominican Republic. She then attended the Royal Academy of Arts of the Hague for one year.  After several years spent back in the Dominican Republic organizing and running a business in serigraphy, she decided to move to the United States for political and economic reasons. 

In 2002 Bonnet worked in a small Medford, MA ceramic studio.  In the spring of 2004, she spent three weeks of intense work at the studio of Frank Giorgini, a ceramic-tile artist in upstate New York.   He recommended her to Nancy Selvage, and she took classes at the HCP Studio in July, 2004, soon becoming part of the staff.  In the fall of 2005, Bonnet began to travel and work in a number of studios including Giorgini’s in NY, a private studio in Geneva, Switzerland, the Tribecca Potters Studio in New York City, and finally as Artist in Residence at Altos de Chavon in the Dominican Republic. Bonnet returned to the HCP Studio this summer and presented a talk and slide show on her recent work. 

Rosanna BonnetThe beautiful old district of Santo Domingo de Guzman, with its Spanish colonial architecture, has been a source of inspiration for Bonnet’s artistic work.  Her favorite ceramics art form is tile, where she says she feels comfortable playing with its surface and creating murals. Her birthplace, with its turquoise waters, lush flora, and abundant sunlight, is reflected in the colors and patterns of her tiles.  Her work is infused with natural themes of orchids, sunflowers and vegetation motifs.   Her hope for the future is to work with architects or to form part of a team involved in interior design.

~Maria Luisa Mansfield, excerpted from Tile Makers in vol 1. number 2, Fall 2008 of Sgraffito the Harvard Ceramics Programs newsletter

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Iraq Map

Shawn Panepinto joined the ceramics program 30 years ago when it was affiliated with Radcliffe College.  Now she teaches classes, manages registration, the semi-annual show and sale and the myriad details of running the studio.  Her presence in the studio can be felt in every corner.  From the time she arrives in her office, people engulf her with questions about anything and everything.  She listens to each, points people to resources, gives or denies permission, resolves quagmires of all sorts and gives advice – which is invariably right.

Panepinto is a graduate of the Ridgewood College of Art (NJ) with concentrations in graphics and commercial art and the Boston Museum School with a dual major in ceramics and painting. One of her early teaching jobs was for the Prison Art Program at Framingham State Prison. Panepinto describes herself as an ‘emotional’ artist as opposed to an ‘intellectual’ one, using her emotions as a source of inspiration. 

Panepinto creates large sculptural pieces, as well as smaller, more functional objects, exploring textures and glazes, generating startling and unexpected contrasts between surface and subject.   Often her forms are humorous or suggest a certain jauntiness. She surprises the viewer with her choice and juxtaposition of color, a palette influenced by her training in painting. She pushes the imagination and shows a gift for the dramatic, revealing her childhood desire to be an actress.

An exhibition of her class’s work at the Fuller Craft Museum in 2007 was a celebration of her 25 years of teaching excellence.  Her sculpture, “U.S. Map of Iraq,” for this show, her largest work to date, exposes the deep and personal emotions aroused by our current involvement in that arena.  Forty-six human heads of textured porcelain are placed along upright rods in an arrangement that mimics the map of Iraq. Tiny impressions of human faces are embedded in each head; the combination of heads and faces represent U.S. soldiers and Iraqi people who have lost their lives.  

Panepinto is a creative teacher.  She generates a safe and nurturing space where people feel challenged to work beyond the edge of their comfort level.  Her class twists and turns around new ideas and techniques.  Each class is usually begun with slides of work from outside sources, illustrating the infinite possibilities of the medium.  In the fast-paced, playfully humorous and highly demanding environment, students exceed their own expectations as they discover their own creative ideas and imagery.

Shawn PanepintoPanepinto’s final class is a banquet, often using tableware made especially for the occasion.  She turns the studio into a magical place decorated with her inexhaustible supply of lights strung around pipes and over the tables.  The sense of celebration is in proportion to all of the hard work and anxious moments during the semester.  The evening cements the bonds built during the weeks of class during which everyone is focused on the common goal of achieving new heights.

~Liz Golbus, excerpted from vol 1. number 2, Fall 2008 of Sgraffito the Harvard Ceramics Programs newsletter

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Dennis McLaughlin Pot

Denny McLaughlin is one of the more recent additions to the Harvard Ceramics Program staff. He was born in southwest Minnesota and lived there for most of his life. About five years ago during a transitional period he moved to Boston. Having taught a class here in 2003, he was familiar with the Harvard Ceram­ics Studio and its community. Within a very few years he has become a central figure at the Studio. Midwestern to his core, McLaughlin has a deep and resonant voice, a huge, warm and open smile and a pioneer spirit that en­courages exploration and promotes possibility.

McLaughlin started his university studies as an art major concentrating on two-dimen­sional work at Southwest State University, Marshall, MN, but with his first course in ceramics in the spring semester of his sopho­more year he switched his focus. After gradu­ating from Southwest State he spent one year working in the pottery studio at Marylhurst College in Portland, Oregon, and earned a Master’s degree in ceramics from Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS. He then returned to Minnesota where he started his family and his career as a production potter.

A friend helped him open his own pottery studio and taught him to balance his atten­tion between the business of selling and the production of the pottery. Consequently his customers were welcomed into his working area where they were educated in the process of producing pottery. His charismatic personality and passion for what he was doing guaranteed that no one left empty handed and would almost certainly come back for more.

He also organized spring and fall events, drawing large crowds. An annual event called “Harvest Gathering at Birch Coulee,” held on the first Sunday of October, cel­ebrated the harvest season and the regional arts and crafts. The event, located next to the historic Birch Coulee Battlefield, attracted thou­sands of visitors. When McLaughlin goes home people still ask about the harvest gathering. His pottery produc­tion in Minnesota spanned close to 20 years.

McLaughlin’s artistic sensibility was in­fluenced by his undergraduate and graduate ceramics professors, in particular under­graduate professor Gordon Dingman, whose work was similar to the work of Bernard Leach and Warren MacKenzie. McLaughlin combines this sensibility with the explora­tion of indigenous clays and glazes, produc­ing work that is strong in form and delicate in surface. He favors stoneware clays, because of their potential for varied interactions with glazes, and ash glazes for their interplay with the clay. He is precise, efficient and fast, has a broad vocabulary of forms, and each is as fresh and fluid as if he’d made only one.

Denny McLaughlin“I draw my inspiration from all work and traditions,” McLaughlin says when asked to define the sources of his artistic style. McLaughlin’s work is predomi­nantly functional, mostly wheel-thrown or formed in molds he makes, and is decorated with slip trails, sprigs and glazes he creates. Although not process oriented, he enjoys direct in­volvement in process, and even built a wood-burning, climb­ing kiln as a graduate student. McLaughlin brings all of these skills to his teaching. He is able to demonstrate processes step by step. The skills he teaches al­low his students a greater free­dom and spontaneity flowing from con­fidence in the ability to control the clay. McLaughlin’s seriousness of purpose and attention to detail complement his genu­ine warmth and his passion for his work.

~Liz Golbus excerpted from vol 1. number 3 Spring 2009 of Sgraffito, the Harvard Ceramics Program newsletter

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Flow Mural

The Harvard community is fortunate to have Nancy Selvage as the director of the ceramics program, a position she has held since 1978. During this time Selvage has produced a large body of public sculptural and mural work as well as other pieces shown in galleries and museums. She has also written articles and grant proposals, organized many scholarly and hands-on symposia, taught classes at the studio, and attended residencies and meetings in the field.

Selvage began her undergraduate studies at Wellesley College assuming a premed track. Fascinated by art history, she soon decided to pursue a career in art, ultimately earning an M.F.A. in Sculpture from Tufts University, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The sciences have, however, continued to wield a strong influence on her creative work, which she has successfully blended in her choice of subject and handling of the material.

One mark of her scientific approach is the meticulous research she does for each project, finding the most appropriate combinations of clays, glazes or other materials, and checking and testing every detail, every creature in a mural, every scientific formula or animal color and shape, every metal or method to be used, so that the finished product will please and endure.

In her impressive body of work, three major pieces stand out, representing her permanent public, ceramic art. In order by date of fabrication, the first is a ceramic tile mural, “Sonoran Snake”, a 50-foot-long rattlesnake whose skin is colorfully decorated with desert animals and plants. Created in 1993, it is attached to a wall leading to the entrance of the Sonora Desert Pavilion at the North Carolina Zoo at Asheboro, North Carolina.

The second is a group of ceramic pieces, created in 2000, for the Canyon View Information Plaza at the Grand Canyon. One part, “Canyon Rim”, is a 3D relief map model of 30 miles of the South Canyon, essentially replicating the topography of the rim area. It interfaces with a floor photo of the Canyon and orients visitors to the area. Another part, “Grand Canyon Camouflage”, consists of 30 low-relief sculptures of plants, animals and fossils that decorate the walls of the orientation building.

The third piece, “Flow”, constructed in 2005, is a ceramic tile mural located on the Science Building at Keene State College in Keene, N.H. It is in the shape of the local Ashuelot River and is a ‘river of scientific knowledge’ elaborately filled with symbols and images from all of the sciences.

In her artists statement she declares:

Nancy SelvageI have always been interested in the overlapping connections and associations between a functional object and the significance of its specific or broader context. A series of plates became embodiments of table manners; a table was inscribed with a litany of food blessings; some map vessels poured specific river systems; the Iraq vessel poured oil; “Wishing Well” pulled the gallery space into a vortex; “Nuclear Home” hovered between cohesion and fallout; a hearth endangered a hunt; one educational mural became a mythic snake ;another became a river of knowledge; a wall animated the streetscape and sheltered the plaza. Whether I start with a plate on a table or a wall in a plaza I work in response to the character and context of that private or public site, with the need to enhance awareness, transform experience, and discover new means of expression.

For images of Selvage’s sculpture click here.

~Suzanne Garen-Fazio, excerpted from vol. 1, number 1 Summer 2008 of Sgraffito, the Harvard Ceramics Program newsletter

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tea set

tea set

For Harvard senior Dave Tischfield the freedom he finds in the studio, where he can ‘just start making’ anything that he can imagine, serves as welcome relief for the stresses and ‘reality’ of working on hardcore lab science. Since freshman year Tischfield’s creative passion for making and firing ceramic sculpture and vessels has been infectious. With wit and energy Tischfield has produced Clay All Night, a popular undergraduate studio party;  taught classes at the Quincy House ceramics studio; run studio workshops for kids with AIDS; and contributed to Ceramics Program presentations for Harvard’s Arts First Festival, a variety of student groups and courses, and the City of Cambridge’s  Riverfest.

David TischfieldWhile giving his students the skills they need to accomplish their creative goals has been both fun and rewarding for Tischfield, ultimately he plans to build on his undergraduate neurobiological research by pursuing an MDPhD. But first he will take a year off after graduation, dividing his time between polishing his thesis for publication and finally having the opportunity to focus on his own sculpture and pottery projects. If he receives sufficient funding, these projects might include studying at a ceramics workshop in China, and field work in Nicaragua to help establish a ceramics microenterprise development project. ~Sue Post

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