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studio classes question -

updated mon 31 mar 97


"Rafael Molina-Rodriguez (Rafael Molina-Rodriguez)" on tue 18 mar 97

Linda :

I regret that you interpreted my post as snobbish. I was merely asking
Jonathan Blitz to establish some credibility for his "system."

My argument is this if I needed legal advice I'd consult a J.D. For health
problems I'd want an M.D. If I wanted electricity run in my house I'd want
a master electrician not an apprentice. If I were getting my car worked
on I hope that the mechanic is certified not a shade tree mechanic.

By the same token, if someone wanted instruction in ceramics, it seems
to me, they would want the instructor to have an education/training and
experience. The MFA, which I have, is the terminal degree in ceramics.
It is required to teach at the university level. My graduate program
consisted of 60 credit hours, a thesis, and a thesis exhibition. I've taught
for the last seven years at the university and community college level. In
addition to teaching I produce and exhibit art in galleries and juried
regional, national, and international competitions. I've been fortunate
enough to win awards. I've conducted workshops in the Texas and
Louisiana region. This isn't self-aggrandizement it's trying to establish
some credibility as an artist and educator.

Ceramics instructors and learning institutions do not exist in a vacuum.
They are compared and contrasted with others. The standard is high.
The bar is being raised all of the time. It's tough to stay up.

The quality of instructors is very difficult to qualify because it's based on
the subjective opinion of the person doing the evaluation.

I would like to revise my previous statement about the quality of
instructors at private versus community college. There are many fine
private studios who have excellent faculty. In the Dallas area Larry
Fleck and Kristen Giles do a great job at the Craft Guild of Dallas. Michael
Obranovich, Gary Huntoon, and Mark Epstein have a fine program at The
Creative Arts Center in old east Dallas. Programs such as The Potters
Guild in Atlanta, Jepson Studios in Florida, Odyssey Center for the Arts in
NC, and Tom Coleman's studio in Nevada are excellent examples of
private ceramics studios who offer instruction. I'm sure there are many

I do believe the community colleges have a distinct advantage over
private studios in the tuition, facilities and equipment they offer. As
Martin Butt alluded to they are "taxpayer supported." The budgets are in
the millions.

Cedar Valley College in the southern part of Dallas county in the town of
Lancaster, Texas. The school opened in 1977. The enrollment is
approximately 3000 students per long semester.

The ceramics studio is 2100 sq. ft. A locker room with 53 lockers, a clay
recycling and pugging room and well stocked chemical room are in the
studio. Equipment includes eight large worktables, shelving units,
extruder, slab roller, a dozen electric/kick wheels, a large glazing table
and glazeware racks.

The covered kiln area is 1200 sq. ft. We have two electric kiln and have
just ordered a Paragon TnF 24-3 for next year. There are two Alpine 24
cu. ft. updraft kilns. A 27 cu. ft. soda kiln. A wood storage bin. A
cross-draft catenary arch wood kiln and a miniature MFT for low fire salt
will come on line in a few weeks.

Our students work with white earthenware, terra cotta, stoneware and
porcelain. They build their forms by pinching, coiling, slab, extruding,
throwing, modelling and carving. We pit-fire, saggar-fire, raku, majolica,
soda-fire, and ^ 11 reduction fire. When I finish the two kilns I'm
currently working on we will wood-fire and low-fire salt fire.

I mix eighteen ^ 10 reduction glazes, nine glazes for ^ 7 soda, five slips
for soda, four raku glazes, and a majolica glaze. When our new electric
kiln arrives I'll offer cone six oxidation and crystalline glazes.

Our enrollment varies between fifty and sixty students for long
semesters. The summer sessions are smaller enrollment. The tuition for
a fifteen week long semester is $ 79.00 plus a $ 16.00 dollar lab fee for
credit or continuing education classes. The lab is open for students to
use outside of class including the weekend. The studio is quite secure
with the campus police office next door.

I don't believe our program is exceptional. We're not even the best in our
District. IMHO, Brookhaven College has that distinction. Kudos to Lisa
Ehrich, Barb Breault, and Sam Clarkson. There are many outstanding
clay programs at the community college level throughout the country.
Randy and I are just trying to stay up.


>>> LINDA BLOSSOM 03/12/97 08:05am >>>
----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Dear Rafael,

I would take exception to your implication that formal education and
give credibility. Your message reeked of snobbery. If all we try to pass
on to others is what we know best, we are doing something that this
could use more of. Your message could serve to discourage people
doing this.

Ithaca, NY

LINDA BLOSSOM on wed 19 mar 97

Dear Raphael,

All of what you say is true if you are speaking of a university program.
In that program, there should be a great variety of facilities and areas to
learn from as well as someone qualified with an extensive background.
However, for a local studio where a few people want to make something to
use or for their home, this isn't necessary. I have people come who want
to make a fireplace hearth, mirror surround, or tiles and it just isn't
necessary that I have everything a school might have. Your goals and
requirements are different. But that doesn't make you or any of your
friends better teachers. I just happened to have been a teacher in the
public school system, but I have learned from people that didn't have any
formal teaching credentials. Your prices are good - but then you receive
money from the state. You just have to consider the situation and the
goals. You are in competition with other schools to keep up. That doesn't
require me to do the same. Based on a student's needs, your program might
be better but not necessarily. All the credentials and facilities won't
help someone who isn't near a school or needs something else. If someone
wants to make tiles, then the requirement to learn to throw wouldn't be of
much help. Not everyone wants a complete course in ceramics. I don't
attempt to give the participants a deep understanding of clay and glaze -
they just want to start with clay and end with a project for their home. I
have to have the knowledge so that I can guide them - giving them the
information they need to produce a successful piece they can use. I have
taught with a lot of qualified teachers - but the credentials lost their
meaning for me. A qualified teacher could screech and insult children as
well as an unqualified one. No one situation can possibly be the right one
for everyone.

Linda Blossom
2366 Slaterville Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850