Ceramics exhibition to showcase student and faculty artwork, celebrate community

18th January 2017
"Blue Ringed Octopus" (detail), a ceramic sculpture by Leia Roberts.

“Blue Ringed Octopus” (detail), a soda-fired stoneware ceramic work by Leia Roberts.

By Steven Krolak

(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–“Bread and Roses: Recent work from the IU Southeast Ceramics Program” is a new exhibition bringing together the artwork of 13 students and two ceramics faculty members.

The show runs from Jan. 20 to March 12 at the Arts Council of Southern Indiana, 820 E. Market St. in New Albany, Ind. An opening reception will take place on Friday, Jan. 27 at 5:30 p.m.

Student artists featured are Sam Chumley, Charlyn Corum, Samuel Fanning, Lalana Fedorschak, Felicia Hill, Abigail Peacock, Kayle Prince, Jenny Reed, Leia Roberts, MacKenzie Roberts, Jennifer Pelkey, Liz Walker, and Dallas Wooten. Faculty artists are Brian Harper, associate professor of fine art and ceramics area coordinator, and Bill Wilkey, resident artist and adjunct lecturer in fine arts.

On display will be a large range of pots, sculptures and mixed media objects.

Ceramic work by Charlyn Corum

Detail of a wood-fired stoneware ceramic work by Charlyn Corum.

“Bread and Roses” takes its name and inspiration from a slogan attributed to Rose Schneiderman (1882-1972), the legendary advocate for the rights of women, laborers and immigrants.

“What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist—the right to life as the rich woman has the right to life, and the sun and music and art,” Schneiderman said in 1912. “The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.”

A Polish immigrant who rose from poverty to become the first woman officeholder in an American labor union and the only woman member of the National Labor Relations Board, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Schneiderman was influential in shaping both attitudes and policy in the 20th century.

For Brian Harper, this makes her the perfect touchstone for a show expressing the ethos of the IU Southeast ceramics program.

“In the IU Southeast ceramics program, we strive to create objects with purpose, works of art that expand our senses and add meaning to our lives,” Harper said. “Like so many of the ideals that Schneiderman fought for, we embrace the value of community and work together as makers to build a creative environment that supports and inspires each of us.”

Harper is excited to bring new works by student artists to the attention of people who are probably not regular visitors to IU Southeast. The works themselves are intriguing in that many have been fired in the new cross-draft soda kiln that the ceramics department built over the summer. In this type of kiln, sodium carbonate or soda ash is sprayed into the kiln during high temperatures (over 2,200 degrees F). According to Harper, it volatilizes in the heat of the kiln and interacts with the silica in the glazes and clay objects. The results are often unanticipated, ranging from directional patterns to shinier, brighter surfaces.

“The results are variable—we call them “atmospheric”—and the colors and patterns vary from firing to firing, and from piece to piece,” Harper said.

“Bread and Roses” advances the mission of the department and the School of Arts and Letters, providing both educational value and practical application of skills while contributing to quality of life in the region. The students filled out real gallery contracts, transported their works to the gallery and worked closely with Julie Sweitzer, the Arts Council executive director, to effectively arrange the exhibition.

“Exhibiting with my students offers an opportunity for me to teach outside the classroom and introduce my students to the process of getting their work out there for people to see,” Harper said.

For more information on “Bread and Roses,” please contact the Arts Council of Southern Indiana at or visit the event’s Facebook page.

Homepage photo: Wood-fired stoneware and porcelain ceramic work by Liz Walker.

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