By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–IU Southeast ceramics faculty and students were a big presence at this year’s Southern Crossings Pottery Festival.
The Festival raised over $5,000 to combat childhood hunger in Kentucky through a gallery show and workshop featuring leading ceramics artists from around the country, as well as an “empty bowl” event at which art lovers purchase a donated bowl, and get to enjoy a gourmet soup of their choice from a leading Louisville chef.
Students from a number of area schools, including IU Southeast, joined ceramic artists in creating bowls for the event.
Some 12 IU Southeast ceramics students and two faculty members contributed more than 100 bowls for the fundraiser and volunteered at the gallery show, held at Copper & Kings distillery in Louisville’s Butchertown district.
Proceeds from the event support A Recipe to End Hunger, Carole’s Kitchen and Blessings in a Backpack, all of whom share a commitment to reducing childhood hunger in the Louisville area.
“People want to invest in something that is successful in community and that makes a difference,” said Jason Bige Burnett, co-founder of the festival. “To have this buy-in from IU Southeast and other schools is phenomenal. “
IU Southeast’s involvement grew organically through the active presence of Brian Harper, associate professor of fine art, in Louisville’s ceramic art community.
Harper and his students had volunteered at last year’s festival, and he wanted them to play a more significant role in this year’s event. In conversations with Burnett and co-founders Stephen G. Cheek and Amy Chase, Harper brought IU Southeast aboard, with a workshop on campus featuring nationally regarded potter Lindsay Oesterritter joining a more robust student donation of bowls and support role at Louisville events.
IU Southeast’s involvement was good for the festival, good for the institution, and especially good for the students, several of whom showed up at 4:50 a.m. to work on bowls for a pre-dawn TV segment with WDRB’s Keith Kaiser that helped to spread the word about the upcoming event.
“It’s so important for the students to get out of the classroom and interact with local, regional, and national artists,” Harper said. “Many of them run art centers, teach in graduate programs, take apprentices, or have contacts with other professionals that have opportunities available, so interacting with these artists put our students in a better position to get professional opportunities to advance their career after they leave IUS.”
That rings true for Brooklin Grantz, a junior from New Albany, Ind. concentrating on ceramics while working as an assistant to Bige Burnett.
“The festival is a great way for me to meet and work with artists from all over the country,” Grantz said.
Beyond the pragmatic benefits, Harper hopes that involvement in Southern Crossings and other events will give students a deeper appreciation for their role in society.
“By getting out and participating in these types of events, I hope to spark an understanding in them that community takes effort from all of us,” Harper said. “By getting my students out there and contributing to our community, and volunteering to make it better, I’m hoping to get them excited to be a part of it for the long term.”
Homepage photo: IU Southeast ceramics students and faculty are joined by Keith Kaiser of WDRB, Jason Bige Burnett of Southern Crossings Pottery Festival for a pre-dawn TV segment about the festival.