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Students fired up about new kiln at IU Southeast

By Gail Faustyn

NEW ALBANY, IN (Dec. 26, 2013) – Giant life-like cardboard structures, an art gallery that reinvents itself nearly every month, and tiny 3D-prints of individual students and faculty.

Most, if not all, students have become familiar with these notorious pieces created by the IU Southeast art department, and now Brian Harper, assistant professor of fine arts, with the help of the advanced ceramics class, built a new kiln to help create even more eclectic new works that students and faculty alike can appreciate.

Tamara Franks, fine arts and psychology senior, gathers up bricks to hand to her fellow classmates during the construction of the kiln.

Tamara Franks, fine arts and psychology senior, gathers up bricks to hand to her fellow classmates during the construction of the kiln.

The new kiln is located behind Knobview Hall, gated off and covered by a bright green roof. The wood firing kiln can reach temperatures of 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit and Harper fired it up for the first time in December.

“This is a really cool project for the students to take part in,” Harper said. “They are literally laying every brick.”

Before Harper came to IU Southeast he had experience with wood firing and that pulled him to bring the process to IU Southeast. He has been trying to get the new kiln started for quite some time.

“I slowly started buying the bricks around five years ago,” Harper said. “It takes around 2,000 bricks to make one of these kilns.”

Though a lot of work, Harper believes the new kiln is absolutely worth it.

“The wood firing process is really cool,” Harper said. “Nearly everything can affect the art. The ashes, whether the piece is placed in the front or back of the kiln, even the other art within the kiln. You never really know how it’s going to come out.”

Previously, in a summer ceramics class, Harper and his students created a smaller scale kiln within the Knobview building.

In an effort to remain environmentally friendly with the permanent kiln, the students used older bricks from the previous kiln and have also taken steps within the building process to remain environmentally conscious.

“Instead of using mortar we have been using recycled clay,” Harper said. “That way if we need to we can scrape of the clay to reuse it.”

The students building the kiln have gotten a lot of the project. Logan Walsh, a senior majoring in fine arts and English , said he has really enjoyed working with his fellow students on building something so tangible.

“It’s been good to be hands-on producing something future students will be able to use,” Walsh said.

The new kiln outside Knobview Hall.

The new kiln outside Knobview Hall.

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