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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Reiser

The huge success of Pottery Palooza - An interview with Troy Aiken

Updated: May 5

86 students attended the Pottery Palooza made it one of the most successful events of this year. We spoke with Troy Aiken, Assistant Professor of Arts at Clarke, one of the initiating heads and led the evening. He answered how the event was and why he thinks that so many students were interested in pottery.

The Pottery Palooza wasn't actually the original idea of the event, sponsored by the Arts at Clarke committee. Initially the night was designed as a "drawing and painting night" where students could doodle on paper, laid out on tables while food was offered. The committee then came to the conclusion that the students might not like that and Troy Aiken proposed a "hands on pottery night, where [the ceramics department] makes all the pieces and students can come in and paint on them". With that idea, the physical making of pieces is taken out of the equation and students can just work on painting their chosen pieces.

The evening eventually took place and although there were 60 slots initially planned, 84 students showed up and wanted to take part in the painting of pottery. As Troy told the Crux, the feeling he and his student workers had was fortunately right and they prepared 30 extra pieces. Despite the close call, every student found a piece to design and started painting for hours. Troy experienced the evening as there was "no space left to sit" in the ceramics department, because every seat was taken by students painting ceramic pieces.

The students start by putting on a pigment coat of their choice. After that is finished, Troy and his student workers add a layer of clear coat, put all the pieces back in the kiln and fire it. The process of firing the pieces makes everything food-, dishwasher-, and microwave-safe, so the students can actually use their own object. Troy believes that this is also a reason why the pottery palooza is so successful: Students have a personal takeaway in form of their piece.

While every piece was art, some outstanding pieces that Troy still remembers are bowls with very realistic cherries that even have lighting and shading on them, as well as a bowl with an octopus that wrappes his tentacles around the outside. He also admired the hard work to paint tiny little beautiful flowers on one piece a student made.

Right now the department is working on repeating the pottery palooza in the future. The thrilled initiator hopes to make another night possible next fall, so that the palooza takes place on a yearly basis. For this to take place a sponsor has to be found either again through Arts at Clarke or through the newly founded ceramics club at Clarke. The club features interested students from the ceramics courses that are also involved in the Pottery Sale that took place this week. This is an opportunity for those students to showcase their work over the whole semester and they get a 100% of the profits. Every student can decide on the number of pieces they want to sell, where beginner classes tend to have about 10-15 pieces, while the advanced ceramics students make up to 30-40 pieces a semester.

Troy encourages students to try out pottery painting the next time as well. He believes that one of the best experiences is talking and painting side by side with students that one may never have met before. He saw students starting to talk and then sitting together for hours while finishing their work of art.

Benjamin Reiser

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