Intro to Ceramics: Journey to the Center of the Earth
Instructor: Michael Swaine (fall 2006)
Cups were collected from thrift stores, grandparents’ cupboards, students’ projects, and former professors as part of a a national search for the ugliest cup ever made. A collegewide vote determined the winner.
Assignment: Each student was responsible for helping the national search by finding three ugly cups. Friends, family, and peers donated the other cups. Students then had to identify different variations of what constitutes ugly (i.e., cute ugly, disturbing ugly, kitsch ugly, outdated ugly, nonfunctional ugly) and remake two of their favorite ugly cups.
Finally, students made three additional cups, merging the ugliness of their favorite cups to develop an ugly “gray scale” or ugly scale. Students realized that between two types of ugliness beauty can be found.
Because prizes were awarded, tempers flared when it was revealed that some entries had been modified to enhance their ugliness -- truly, nothing is more ugly than the lengths some people will go to win.
Bringing Sexy Back
Bringing Sexy Back was a collaborative project organized by MFA graduate Erik Scollon to emphasize the vessel. For three weeks potters set up shop in the ICEBOX Gallery and publicly produced their wares. Then they invited the the public to watch through the large picture window. A soundtrack, lighting, and disco ball accompanied the so-called production.