Faculty bonds at ceramics workshop


Annika Bhandari and Eliana Son

Ceramics teacher Keith Renner hosted the first Saturday Ceramics Workshop for faculty members before Thanksgiving break, on November 19. 13 faculty members, from varying departments, attended the workshop.

“This workshop was meant to build some camaraderie among faculty and staff,” Renner said. He wanted to bring the faculty together post-COVID in a fun and engaging way. 

Renner began the workshop with a quick introduction to ceramics. “I condensed what would normally be a year-long class into a 30 minute demonstration,” he said. For the remainder of the workshop, the faculty participants created a plate, bowl, or cylindrical pot of their choice.

Renner ensured that every attendee, no matter their level of experience, finished a piece of artwork by the end, he said. “It was important to me that everyone left with sort of a souvenir.”

Visual arts teacher Brian Lee decided to make a kimchi pot inspired by Korean ceramics, he said. During the workshop, he learned how different techniques affect the purpose and effectiveness of a pot, Lee said. “Some [kimchi pots] allow the fermentation process to hasten, some make it slower,” he said. “Not only did [Mr. Renner] guide us with aesthetics in mind, but also function.”

Upper Division math teacher Charles Worrall loved sitting and chatting with other faculty members during the workshop, he said. Worrall knew that he wanted to attend the workshop after many years of students telling him about their transformative ceramics classes.

Several teachers had prior ceramics experience from when they were students. School nurse DeAnna Cooper took a ceramics class in college and found the workshop an enlightening experience, she said. “As an adult, you don’t have many opportunities to learn something new, whereas when you’re younger, you learn and try new things all the time.”

Middle Division history teacher Catherine Garrison also had ceramics experience going into the workshop but had not sat down at a wheel for ten years, she said. “It was a fun way to be in the role of a student in an engaging activity, and also supporting one another as many learned something brand new to them.”   

While the ceramics studio could only accommodate 13 faculty members for this workshop, many more expressed interest in participating, Renner said. He hopes to host more workshops in the future, so that others can try their hand at ceramics.