Ceramics lecture fires off Fine Art Series

Photo by Emma Nielsen.
Photo by Emma Nielsen.
2-28 StretchingRocks-2
Photo by Emma Nielsen.

This past Monday marked the opening presentation of the President’s Fine Art Series with the lecture “Science + Earth = Art: How to Stretch a Rock.” Presented by the MSU Office of the President and the College of Arts and Architecture, this year’s series focuses on the art of science and the science of art.

Over the next six weeks, a total of 12 events — all free and open to the public — will be presented as part of the series. Hosted on campus and at the Emerson Cultural Center, these events consist of four lectures (including Monday’s), two performances, three panel discussions and three exhibits. The series will conclude in the first week of April with two events specifically coordinated with Celebrating Einstein, another local informational series.

This year’s series is almost twice as big as last year’s, spanning diverse topics and media such as musical composition, theater, jazz, ceramics and photography. The aim of the series is to present the intersection of such art with the sciences, presenting their inherent influence and reliance upon each other.

This particular event focused on the intersection of the art of ceramics with geology and chemistry as presented by Dean Adams and Josh Deweese — two local ceramic legends. Both are extremely experienced and educated in global traditions in pottery, with Adams focusing on clay, the base medium of many ceramic practices, and Deweese focusing on glaze, the coating applied to the pottery to provide protection and coloring.

As Adams put it, “The history of the world is told through clay.” He noted that ceramics pre-dates agriculture (by 10,000 years no less) and has spawned cultural heritage all around the globe, from Chile to China. Even though the practice has been in existence for 20,000 years, “All clay is really wild,” Adams said. “We like to pretend that it’s domesticated, but it’s not.”

Deweese, a self proclaimed “glaze freak,” enlightened the audience on different glazes. Glazes are unique to each other depending on their organic base, firing technique or geology. “Different ware is dependent on the geology of the area — each area produces unique work,” Deweese said. This is true for both glaze and clay, and can be extrapolated to the intergalactic level. Deweese noted that the specific clay compositions recently found on Mars by the Curiosity Rover are currently being recreated on Earth, eventually leading to Martian pottery.

For those looking for other such intellectually stimulating and entertaining events, the next installment of the President’s Fine Art Series is a panel discussion on the science of sound taking place on Monday, March 4 at 7 p.m. in Reynolds Recital Hall. More information can be found at montana.edu/caa/pfas.