Fired up

Something is always taking shape at the ceramics studio, and it's not just the clay

Virginia Scotchie, head of ceramics in the university's School of Visual Art and Design, has been teaching ceramics for years, but she still gets excited by the energy students have when they realize what they can make with clay.

"When students work with clay, it kind of opens their eyes up, like, ‘Wow, look what I can do with this material,’" says Scotchie, an acclaimed ceramics artist whose art is on display around the world. "It really enriches what they’re studying and thinking about. Scientific studies have shown how working with art and music helps other parts of your brain to become more active. I think that the material of clay activates curiosity, that sense of inquiry, and it may reach into other parts of their lives."

In ceramics classes, Scotchie teaches the history of ceramics and shows students how contemporary artists are working in clay. Visiting artists come here from around the country and around the world to give workshops.

"I have former students now working at university-level jobs; some who are practicing artists who’ve received NEA grants. It’s a sense of great joy to see that happen," she says. "Many of them become family, it’s a wonderful connection. With clay we’re working as a group, we work together. There’s a lot of community."

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