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Posts Tagged ‘whimsy’

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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Alice Abrams Sculpture

Alice Abrams trained in theatre arts as an undergraduate at Tufts University and as a graduate student at New York University. She was introduced to clay in a local art center in 1970. “The hobby grew into a passion,” said Abrams, who has been associated with Boston area ceramics programs during the past 35 years. As stu­dent, teacher, exhibi­tor and curator, she has become a well-known figure in the ceramics community. Currently she maintains studio space at the Lexington Arts & Crafts Society, where she has been a member since 1974, and at the Harvard Ceramics Program Studio, where she has been a participant for 20 years.

Abrams’ ceramics reflect her warm and in­fectious sense of humor and her emotional attachments to nature and family. A signature form for Abrams is the buffalo. Every piece is one of a kind. Each bison is hand formed and finished by firing in raku or in a sag­gar box with organic materials and metal oxides. “Making buf­falos gives me a way to honor my mother,” Abrams explains. “As a child in the Midwest I accompanied her on many western road trips during summer holidays …. The buf­falo serves as a symbol for my attachment to a courageous woman who discovered a new life and taught me about possibilities across the horizon.” 

Humor is another constant in Abrams’ cre­ations. One aspect of her current work is focused on food sculpture, reshaping the vocabulary of nutrition with clay. Abrams describes this idea as, “adding some spice to nutritional concepts to make them more palatable.” One such sculpture is a plate of donuts on lettuce titled I Will Just Have a Salad. Another is Food Pyramid, con­structed of three layers of peanuts — over 1200 in number. Abrams hand-builds these sculp­tures, using low-fire clays and glazes as mate­rials, and slabs, coils and molds for forming. She also incorporates rods and glue and other tools. Abrams is eclec­tic in her choice of clay, glazes, firing modes and temperatures, as well as in her forming techniques. She works with low-, medium- and high-fire clays and glazes and finishes in oxida­tion, reduction, saggar or raku firings. She hand-builds functional plates, platters and boxes as well as the buf­falo and food sculptures.Abrams is also skilled at wheel-throwing, using this expertise to form bowls and lidded jars, mugs and other vessels. Consistent with this diversity, she employs a wide range of techniques for decorating her work.

Alice AbramsAlthough widely divergent in construction and finish, Abrams’ body of work contains themes that are recognizably hers, most notably the shape of her thrown forms and the nature of her hand-built pieces. Threads of continuity can be perceived throughout, along with a de­sire to stretch into new territory. Consequently it is common to see herds of buffalo roaming among mugs, platters and bowls, or plates of ceramic cupcakes, in her display at the semi-an­nual Show and Sale of the HCP Studio.

~Suzanne Garen-Fazio excerpted from vol 1. number 3 Spring 2009 of Sgraffito, the Harvard Ceramics Program newsletter

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“So You Think You Can Throw. . . a Dinner Party?”

The name of Shawn Panepinto’s class, listed in the course catalog, gave those who enrolled a good idea about what was going to be in store for them in the Spring of 2009.

The focus of the class was, as the title suggested, preparing to give a dinner party on the last day of the semester that would include members of the class and their invited guests. The preparation included each student making 2 place settings (2 dinner plates, 2 salad plates, 2 bowl shaped containers, 2 drinking vessels, and one luminary for the table), and it also included planning a menu and then preparing the food.

The class divided into five teams each choosing a country or a region that its pottery and menu selections would represent. After lively debate, the teams announced their choices: the Caribbean, Spain, the Middle East and North Africa, the Southwest United States, and China. In addition to the place settings and food, each team also created a centerpiece, chose appropriate music, and decided on drinks to be served with the meals.
The culmination of the semester would be, of course, the dinner party itself! The guest list included many spouses and family members who had heard about classes and about studio activities for years, but had never actually visited. There was anticipation and excitement.

So… with a lot of work, a lot of preparation, and a lot of collaboration, it seems this class can indeed throw a dinner party!

Here are reactions to the party from some of the guests and the participants.

Last evening, the studio was literally transformed into a multi-cultural wonderland. Guests were escorted inside to help celebrate the semester-end of Shawn Panepinto’s advanced class. Dressed up in white linen, with spectacular lighting and exquisitely decorated tables displaying handmade dinnerware, it was barely recognizable. Many hands worked tirelessly to create a truly special event that featured homemade cuisine from China, The Caribbean, the American Southwest, North Africa, and Spain. Full menus were prepared and presented by members of the class, and served on handmade dinnerware inspired by those same cultures. From appetizers to desserts, with amazing main courses in between, guests were treated like VIP’s. Shawn had put together a slideshow that featured most of those in attendance, who, along with their work, were shown in memorable situations from the past. Many spouses were there (some for the first time), Cathy McCormick and her husband Dewey Dellay attended, Shawn and Delaney were presented with gifts and accolades, and Nancy Selvage put in an appearance just to finish the party on a high note.
To say that a good time was had by all would be a huge understatement! A memorable celebration of a memorable class!
(Jim Anderson, guest)

A feast to the eyes. (anonymous guest)

The food was all wonderful. (Austin de Besche, guest)

Martha Stewart, move over, you’ve got competition. Candlelight flickered in ceramic luminaries in the Main Studio as Shawn Panepinto and her 25 students greeted 35 guests on Wednesday evening, May 6, for the culmination of her Advanced Ceramics class. The course, titled “So, You Think You Can Throw a Dinner Party?” challenged her students to throw, both ceramically and literally, a gourmet dinner party in which every single place setting, serving platter, candle holder and centerpiece was to be made by them during the semester. The class had been divided into 5 teams for the two term project. The Fall semester focused on an exploration of tableware ceramic technique. During the Winter/Spring Semester, each team studied a region of the world to find artistic inspiration and a culinary theme. They created complete menus for each of the 5 regions and began to design the serving containers for the native dishes they would be cooking. As May approached, the teams added party planning to their duties; they designed the invitations, and organized the decorations, flowers, music and entertainment. The last week was a flurry of kiln firings and human activity as the class transformed the studio into a colorful banquet hall. The night of the party, guests were feted to delights from China, the American Southwest, Spain, the Carribbean, and the Arabian Mediterranean countries. The visual spectacle of 60 original handcrafted place settings was stunning. So, did the class succeed at Shawn’s challenge? As one of her students, I would answer, “Yes ( we can!)” Perhaps that’s why the lifesize cardboard cutout of President Obama was standing in the doorway. The class extends joyous thank you’s to Shawn, for guiding us “soup to nuts” through another creative endeavor. The party may be over, but the place settings will be on view at the Show and Sale. Put it on your calendar, May 14-17. (Alice Abrams, participant)

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erotic table setting

erotic table setting

The diversity of Amy Woods’ fanciful table settings belies her abiding commitment to the integrity of the various clays and glazes as well as the piles of found objects she often uses as source material. While not intending to be too obvious or offensive, Woods’ work subverts the concepts of identity and playfulness, and pushes the opposing boundaries of both sculptural and surface decoration. AS a TA and summer course instructor, Woods encourages her students to relate their ceramic practice to their life outside the studio. ~Sue Post

 

Amy Woods

Amy Woods graduated from Boston University with a B.A. in German literature.  Her next endeavor was to transform herself into  a professional potter getting most of her education “hands on” through the Harvard Ceramics Studio (formerly the Radcliffe Pottery Studio) with the addition of some summer workshops with Walter Ostram and Marilyn Dintenfass.  She has produced an abundance of specialty presentation-ware for vegetables, fruits, beverages, and blancmange, that is not to be trifled with.

 

 

 

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Flat Fish

Flat Fish

Stephanie Young     Artist Statement

I base all of my work on designs created first by the earth.  I have yet to lose my childlike curiosity about the existence of things, and I attempt to channel that energy into making curious work.

My work is inspired by forms found in the various fields of science.  Oceanography is a well of inspiration I have been working with in several series of pieces.   One is a series of vessels that have textures inspired by microscopic exploration of ocean life.  The textures are familiar to us through our knowledge of science, though foreign to the naked eye.  These vessels are classic forms, decorated with new science.   The resulting pieces are a nice rounded representation of time.

Another series has been my creation of tremendous numbers of invented fish.  These sculptures have the characteristics found in prehistoric fish combined with those of current deep sea discoveries.  Evolution, environment, and their effects on the form of these creatures are a great inspiration for my own creative evolution.  They seem to bring a great joy to the people who meet them, children and adults alike. 

 Clay is my chosen medium as I find it is the only medium that allows one to be totally free in the creative process.  While I often sketch and paint, it confines my invention to a two dimensional plane.  I am fascinated with all aspects in the ceramic process, and look forward to spending all my years playing in the mud.

Stephanie YoungStephanie Young BFA in Sculpture, Art Institute of Boston, Ceramics studio manager and instructor New Art Center, Newton, MA. Instructor at Wheelock College. Stephanie creates functional vessels and sculpture with a wide range of clay materials, hand building and wheel throwing techniques and firing methods.

 

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