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Ohio Northern University A&D Professor accepted to lead session at national conference

NovemberOhio Northern University’s ceramics professor, Luke Sheets, recently was selected to lead a topical discussion session at this year’s National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Conference.

NCECA, a professional association for the ceramic arts, promotes and advances the field of ceramics through education, community building, research and creative inspiration. NCECA offers educational programs, exhibitions, events and publications to support its membership of artists, educators, students, individual and corporate patrons, gallery owners, museum curators and providers of ceramic arts.

NCECA’s 48th Annual Conference in Milwaukee will be held March 19–22 at the Wisconsin Center. The conference will be dedicated to the investigation of the complex ways that materials acquire meaning through the things that are made and those that surround us in our daily lives. Exhibitions and programs will expand on traditional definitions of fine and decorative arts, craft and design in the context of the 21st century.

“There is a wealth of ceramic materials available to the American ceramicist,” explains Prof. Sheets. “Large distributers like Resco in the east, Lincoln and Imco in the west, and Christy and Plainsman in between, make it possible for potters to tailor their clay body to whatever type of work they are doing. But this also tends to lead to a uniformity in the clays that ceramic artists use. Using local materials is an excellent way to help your work stand out not just from the mass-produced object but also the mass-produced clay bodies. Local materials help to address the issues of time, place, and culture by giving the finished object a story, a narrative history.”

Prof. Sheet’s session, The Ceramic Locavore, addresses his process for procuring clays, his development of working clay bodies and glazes, and his experiences working with local raw materials.

“Living and working in Ohio, with its wealth of clay, has caused me to ponder several interesting questions,” Prof. Sheets describes. “How can I use what is under my feet without the labor of digging it out myself? Are there other sources of clay I can use in my work? Goldart is mined and processed in southern Ohio and can be found in the vast majority of suppliers across the United States; does this still count as a ‘local’ material?

“I have found several local sources of clay for myself in northwest Ohio that allow me to utilize clays local to my area that are less available to the ceramic community as a whole. [During my session,] I plan to discuss my process for procuring the clays, which is embarrassingly easy, my development of working clay bodies at a variety of temperatures, glazes, and the benefits and drawbacks I have experienced working with local raw materials.”

NCECA’s conference theme is material world, which has the ability to cause an interruption in our presumed understanding of something, as it is literally impossible to ignore. The weight of a cup, the thin layers of glaze on a surface and the weight of sculpture all mediate a relationship between the object and viewer.  While ceramic artists make things, things have the ability to make us as well, influencing our understanding of place, time and culture.

Thematically, Material World will explore the moment when an object stands out against the backdrop of the world in which it exists and is able to be seen and understood in surprising and new ways.

Prof. Luke 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 “History in the Making: Ceramic Traditions / Contemporary Objects,” 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,” and most recently in 2013, was published in “500 Teapots: Contemporary Explorations of a Timeless Design” (Vol. 2), both books published by Lark Books. At ONU, Prof. Sheets teaches ceramics, sculpture and 3D design. He also is the adviser to the Kappa Pi international art honorary.

Ohio Northern University’s quality, student-centered education distinctively combines nationally ranked sciences, arts and professional programs for more than 3,600 students in its five colleges: Arts & Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering, Pharmacy and Law.

Originally designated as the School of Fine Arts and later the College of Fine Arts, the art & design program was first established as an independent academic unit at Ohio Northern in 1878, largely as an outgrowth of course work in engineering and architectural drawing. Today, Ohio Northern 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-dimensional, three-dimensional and pre-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, AIGA: The Professional Association for Design, and the National Council on Education of Ceramic Arts. The department is recognized in the second and third editions 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 2013–14 Arts Exhibition Season, contact the department at 419.772.2160.