Jonathan Kaplan on sat 22 mar 97
I've been reading and re-reading the rather pointed posts on
education, surveys, the academic and non-academic sides of ceramics and
think I may need to jump in here and add my perspective. The caveat is that
these are my opinions and only my opinions. The names and dates have not
been changed to protect the innocent.
There still seems to be a schism between the academics and the
non-academics, and I guess that this will always be apparant in out field.
In sifting through the many daily clayart messages I am amazed at the
number of really basic questions. And of course there are those who preface
their postings with=22....while this may seem a stupid question....=22 etc. =
I believe that while no question ever is stupid and need not be posed, what
this does for me is illuminate the process by which we get our information,
how we get it, and the quest and the need for information regardless of
the level or method of one's education.
Sources for information are varied, but it is interesting to see the
roots and genesis of such. How many times have we cited or used those old
dog-eared sheets from Alfred, such as those that are in Val's Handbook? I
have some of the originals even before the handbook hit mainstream...Bill
Alexander's treatise on wood firing and ceramic toxicology, Norm Schulman's
burner design sheets from RISD, and some real old ones from Mills College.
All this stuff gets diseminated in the various channels be they academic or
other wise. No one certainly has dibs or proprietary ownership of
information. Its out there (thanks Mulder and Sculley=21=21) but the point =
that asking the questions and searching for method, knowledge, and
information that may or may not work for you must and should be encouraged,
be it pursuing a =22degree=22 in academia or the =22degree of experience=22 =
quotes mine=21) in a non academic environment. What continues to gall me is
the persistant disemination of misinformation that also over time, then
becomes dogma. Or the lack of pursuing a particular educational endeavor
because it may not be sanctioned in academia...such as how to learn to put
a potfolio together because the teaching of the business side of art is not
encouraged=21 Such closed mindedness is both insulting to the student and
insulting to the concept of education.
So now we see some very pointed posts regarding degrees, academic
training, surveys, and here are some thoughts I have gleaned. Permit me,
please, a point of view, broad based and non dogmatic.
There are many ways to get an education. A traditional approach may be
the college, the university, or the art school. Perhaps an even older and
more experiential approach, could be an apprenticeship situation. Or what
about jumping in and just working? Reading books? Going to workshops?
Finding some one whose work you respect and admire and working for them?
There are no correct ways or situations that speak for all of us. For some,
a BFA/MFA is the only way and making clay work in an academic situation
provides those experiences and environment that may work for you. That is
not to say that the academic approach is the only way, in fact, for some,
it may be ponderous and not particularly relevant. Learning on your own may
also have its deterants but may afford one both the time and lack of
structure that for some, works.
Posturing a particular point of view seems to me to be ego driven and
tied to a particular dogma thatcan and does have long term negative effects
when applied to learning. What education is about, to me, is learning from
any and every source that is out there. What you do with it after
distilling what is relevant for you then could become your focus. Whether
you ascribe towards a Mingei way of working or of a technical approach to
your wares or whatever works for you, should we not encourage each and
everyone without such derision or condescension? I have never experienced
such pointed =22my way or the highway=22 dogma as has surfaced from time to
time on this list and in other areas within the ceramics =22community.=22 =
are those whose judgemental views and opinions IMHO, serve only one purpose
and one purpose only, and that is to illuminate a close minded and shallow
persona. We need to concentrate more on making our work then the spewing
forth of reams of verbage ( and I am guilty fo this also=21) that just get =
the way and promote confusion.
Education in our field takes many diverse forms. If your interest is
in a more basic approach to material and aesthetic, there are quite a few
academic situations where wood firing technique and value is encouraged. If
you wish to pursue a more sculptural side of ceramics, there are many
programs that stress this. To learn how to make functional ware, learn
aesthetics and values in making tableware,the technical considerations and
pursue a career with this, one may need to study abroad, as I do feel that
this approach is discouraged in many of our colleges and universities that
have ceramics programs. While I know there are some programs here that
stress this, it is by far not mainstream.
We may need to re-evaluate our system of ceramics education in our
colleges and universities, and perhaps, eliminate it all together. Because
after all, one could ask, what indeed is its purpose? Why bother with all
of this if there is really nothing to gain other than a degree in
ceramics/fine art, whatever? What do we do with our education? Many posts
deal with the =22What do I do now?=22 question after school is done, after =
degrees obtained and the parchment framed on the wall. I would submit that
there is indeed value and purpose in ceramics and fine arts education.
Education cannot be held in the strict domain of the college or the
university. It need not be presented as a survey, without form and without
context. If we, as educators, (and I do not hold that only those with
university postions are educators or hold title to this noble pursuit) do
not encourage both ourselves, our students, and our protog=E9s and wannabes
to search from within and find the spark, then what are we really doing
other than pursuing our own ego driven careers?
What education is about should never be only confined to institutions
of higher learning. If we continue to believe that education in ceramics
can only be taught or learned in classroom, then indeed we need to
dismantle our programs and start again from the beginning. Once education
and learning is distilled, saut=E9d, chopped up, blended or pur=E9d (hey, =
a new key here=21=21) have we not succumed to the lowest comman denominator?
I have met and respect many pottery academics in this field. I have
also met and resepct many non-academics in ceramics. We are so often
overburded and encumbered with the areas that divide us as potters/ceramic
artists (choose your own term) that we don't see the similar vocabulary
that may serve to strengthen and encourage our comman interests.
Ceramic Design Group Ltd./Production Services Voice:
970-879-9139 POB 775112
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80477, USA CALL before =
=22Arrive on time, tell the truth, be a good listener, and =
be too attatched to the results. Above all, maintain a sense =
Dannon Rhudy on sat 22 mar 97
Thank you for the reminder that education is constant, ongoing,
available from a multitude of sources, and in no way the
prerogative of any person or group or institution. There
is always more than one solution to any problem, more than one
answer to any question. We might choose to limit ourselves in
how/where/when we acquire our OWN education; to attempt to limit
others in this regard is absurd and, in fact, not possible.
When I look at work that is made with passion and skill and
joy, do I care how the maker was educated? No, I do not.
I just - smile.
I've been reading and re-reading the rather pointed posts on
education, surveys, the academic and non-academic sides of
ceramics ......No one certainly has dibs or proprietary ownership
information. Its out there .....
.......... we see some very pointed posts regarding degrees,
academic training, surveys, and here are some thoughts.....
There are many ways to get an education. ..
.... I have met and respect many pottery academics in this
field. I have
also met and resepct many non-academics in ceramics. ......