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Ohio Northern Ceramics Professor To Present at International Conference

Ohio Northern University ceramic professor Luke Sheets will be presenting at the First European Wood-Fire Conference to be held September 2–5 at Bröllin Castle in Bröllin, Germany. This international conference will aim at exploring current research and trends in wood firing, along with technical and aesthetical issues.

Prof. Sheets, addressing one of the conference themes of education, will talk about his recent research entitled, “Teaching the Fire: The Wood-kiln in Ceramics Pedagogy.”

The theme explores possible effects that can unfold as the result of a wood-fired kiln in an educational institution. “The firing of a wood-kiln is an excellent tool for teaching college students about the firing process and the nature of fired clay,” explains Sheets. “I involve my students in all aspects of the firing, from the initial stacking of the wood to the wadding of pieces, the sorting, organizing, and placing of the pieces, the actual firing, and the unloading and clean up of every firing.”

The direct experience with the process and ceramic technology gets students excited about ceramics. “This involvement provides the students a powerful insight into how much work is required in firing ceramic ware regardless as to the fuel that fires it.”

The conference, expected to attract around 200 delegates from Europe and around the world, will be held at the famed Bröllin Castle. Situated in northwest Germany, the castle, not fully restored, sits on a large country estate surrounded by acres of historic, beautiful land.

Prof. Sheets is an assistant professor in ceramics and director of the 3D program at Ohio Northern’s department of art & design. He earned his BFA from Ohio Northern University and his MFA from Bowling Green State University. His research interests include experimenting with clays and glazes to discover how they react with wood-kiln firing and incorporating local materials into the process. His work has been accepted into many national competitions including the Majestic Galleries’ National Juried Competition 2009, the “Drink: Functional Forms for Every Libation” international competition, the 8th Annual National Juried Cup Show and the 6th Annual “It’s Only Clay” National Exhibition. In 2005, he had work included in “500 Cups: Ceramic Explorations of Utility and Grace,” a book published by Lark Books. At ONU, Prof. Sheets teaches ceramics, sculpture and 3D design. He also is the adviser to the Kappa Pi art honorary.

The 2010–11 academic year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bachelor of Arts degree in art at Ohio Northern University. Growing from a single-discipline school, the department offers both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with majors in advertising design, art education, graphic design and studio arts with concentrations in two-dimensions, three-dimensions and art therapy. The department of A&D holds memberships in national organizations such as the National Art Education Association, College Art Association, Foundations in Art: Theory and Education and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is also recognized in the second edition of “Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers” as one of the best creative programs nationwide. For additional information about the department of art & design or the University’s 2010-11 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.

image: Prof. Luke Sheets and a ceramic student during a wood-kiln firing.