Making History in Clay – New Class!

Whenever a culture grows up alongside clay deposits and a steady supply of fuel, they make ceramic objects. It’s one of the oldest human technologies and has been independently discovered by cultures all across the globe. I’ve always been fascinated by the endless variety of ceramic forms and surfaces that have come to us from the distant past. They are tangible objects that have been molded into their shapes by a series of expanding, interdependent influences.

Most directly, it is the makers themselves who form the raw materials into their final forms and control the kilns which imbue them with durability. These makers are guided by the practical, social, and religious needs of their communities; the vessel for storing water is not the same as one for offering wine to a god. These communities are in turn rooted in a particular corner of the Earth, a corner whose peculiar geography and geology dictate the sources of heat, clay bodies, and minerals available for the makers’ use. And thanks to the tireless activity of human beings, these particular corners of the Earth are connected by networks of trade and migration which transport the ideas and raw materials of one ceramic culture to another.

The result is a dazzling array of colors and innovations, of objects for the home and for the altar, of jewelry for the body and sculptures for the public square. History in Clay starts with a trip to the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City where we will get a firsthand look at their ceramic collection. Each student will choose a piece from that collection and, after researching the processes and culture which made it, recreate that object in the Lawrence Arts Center. As each student builds their piece, our ceramics studio will become a microcosm of the history and methods of ceramics traditions from across the globe, a 12-week step back in time to when a priceless museum piece was still a wet lump of clay.


-Andrew Cho, Instructor

Enroll today!