Pottery Students Get History Lessons, Too
Levin, Meta L., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Meta L. Levin Daily Herald Correspondent
Twenty three years ago Tony Holmes was happily making pottery in his own studio in Wisconsin.
All that changed quickly when John C. Murphy, former division chairman of the College of Lake County's communication arts division, came to call.
"He knew I had a master's degree and that was what was needed to teach at CLC," Holmes said. "He talked me into it."
Holmes, who is well-known to potters throughout Lake County, has not regretted his decision. He has watched the program grow over the last 23 years and is constantly looking for ways to improve and enhance it.
"It started as a small program and we grew right away," Holmes said.
There now are two pottery teachers at CLC, Holmes and Amy Ortiz. Still classes fill up almost as fast as they open.
"Our enrollment has always been high," Holmes said. "That is a testimony that the process works."
The process is this: Holmes and Ortiz wrap art in history and tradition.
Tapping into history is easy. Holmes notes that ceramics has been around in one form or another since the ice age and is present in almost every culture. Each student in CLC's diverse student body brings to class his or her own background, rich with the very things that Holmes wants to highlight in his classes.
"We try to deal with it as a multicultural thing," Holmes said. "We also deal with the history and cultures, starting with the ice age ceramics to contemporary, hitting as many as we can. We cover every aspect as much as time allows."
The program has a variety of indoor and outdoor kilns, reflecting the diversity of cultures represented. Sometime around Halloween, students will learn raku, a Japanese technique, using a special kiln outside at CLC. In raku the pottery is taken from the kiln at a temperature of 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit and immediately plunged into a container of sawdust and wood filings that bursts into flame, thus creating the discipline's unique color schemes. …