KPC opens new art room to community

Throwing a warm welcome

Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2003

Though the name of the event sounds somewhat hostile and destructive, people participating in Kenai Peninsula College's Throw-A-Pot Day actually were involved in a fun and creative endeavor.

The event was held Tuesday to raise awareness of the completion and outfitting of KPC's new 3-D art studio. First-timers on up to experts were invited to drop in throughout the day and early evening to try their hands at shaping clay pots on the lab's potters' wheels -- a technique known as "throwing."

"(Throw-A-Pot Day) was mostly to get people here," said Celia Anderson, art professor and gallery director at KPC. "It's a great place, but it's not a place many people go if they're not taking classes."

The studio is tucked behind a mechanical lab in the campus' Ward Building, which traditionally has been home to the college's industrial-related labs. By early afternoon, the event had a steady stream of participants, and Anderson said she expected more people to come in the evening.

"It's going great, there's quite a few people," she said.

Many of the artists who were trying to coax blobs of clay into spherical shapes were dusting up on pottery skills acquired years, or even decades, earlier. Several pots were thrown on the wheel then promptly thrown back into the clay recycling area, but no one seemed discouraged by producing less-than-symmetrical results.

"This one is different at best," said Chris Gehrett of her pot, which developed a curved lip while she was shaping it. Gehrett teaches education and philosophy at KPC and decided to drop in on the activity. Though she is not a complete newcomer to ceramics, it was the "first time in ages" that she had given it a try.

"I love working with the clay," she said. "It's ... fun, it makes you laugh, you get all dirty."

Louis Lagoutaris and Zane Olson, both KPC students, were having mixed results with their endeavors. Lagoutaris gave a rundown of the steps involved in throwing a pot.

First you wedge the clay -- an action similar to kneading dough -- to get the air bubbles out. Then you weigh the clay, center it on the wheel, make a hole in the rounded blob with your thumbs and shape the sides of the vessel.

"Centering it on the wheel is the fundamental of throwing," Lagoutaris said.

The centering step was throwing Olson for a curve.

"This is a prime example of what not to do," he said, indicating the lopsided gob spinning haphazardly on his wheel.

The 700 pounds of clay and other materials used in the event were free. In exchange, participants donated their pots to the upcoming KPC art auction, "if they get anything that stands upright," Anderson joked.

The auction will be at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 in the KPC commons and will benefit the student union. Art projects created by KPC students, including paintings, ceramics pieces, fiber works and drawings, will be up for silent auction.

"Some of it is really, really nice," Anderson said. "There's going to be a whole variety of things. It's going to be really fun. I can't wait."

The new 3-D studio will be home to several art classes in future semesters where KPC students will be able make pottery for future art auctions.

The studio also may be home to more Throw-A-Pot Days, since the first one got such a positive response.

"This is great fun, I hope it will be an annual event," Anderson said. "I see next year as being a bigger event than this."

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