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Ceramics workshop brings student engagement to campus

The Mosaic Village and Umoja Black Scholars Program hosted a ceramics workshop with Valley College Professor Katie Queen.

By Natalie Metcalf, Valley Life Editor

Attendees of a cermics workshop work on pinch pots, a small clay bowl made by hand. The workshop was hosted by the Mosaic Village and the Umoja Black Scholars program. (Griffin O'Rourke | Valley Star)

The Mosaic Village’s ceramics workshop made the most of the rainy weather on Thursday, as 31 students and staff crowded into the art building to make pinch pots.

Professor Katie Queen sponsored the workshop, providing pizza and water bottles in addition to teaching Monarchs how to create their pinch pots. Volunteers from the ceramics program –– alumni of Valley College –– assisted anyone who needed help with sculpting their clay. Partnering with the ceramics classroom, this is the first art event the Mosaic Center has done. The purpose of the event was to highlight the art program at Valley.

“Ceramics is a community-based medium because it’s really labor intensive,” said Queen. “Being with other people to fire kilns, mix glazes and clay really creates a sense of community.”

Professor Queen has been doing ceramics since she was 14 years-old. She loves the malleability of clay and finds sculpting to be therapeutic for some people. The ceramics professor had previously planned an event like this before COVID-19 forced the campus to close.

Monarchs began with a ball of clay, pushing their thumbs at the bottom of the ball. Then participants kneaded the ball of clay with their fingers, creating a small bowl called a pinch pot. After creating their sculptures students and faculty had the choice of painting their clay. After the event, volunteers and Professor Queen put the pots in a kiln. Students will be emailed when they can come and pick up their pinch pot.

(L-R) Dr. Elliott Coney and studio arts major Olivia Gomez work on their pinch pots which are small clay bowls sculpted by hand. (Griffin O'Rourke | Valley Star)

Krixa Lim from The Veterans Resource Center, Natalie Guerrero from The Rainbow Pride Center, Javier Carbajal-Ramos from The Dream Resource Center and Dr. Elliot Coney from The Umoja Black Scholars Program were all in attendance and making pinch pots of their own.

Some participants decided to create sculptures as well as the recommended creation. Leftover scraps of clay were put into giant trash cans and mixed together with water and clay powder. Everything left over is able to be reused.

Lim originally had some trouble with her pinch pot but was able to successfully create one with the help of Professor Queen. The Veterans resource counselor discussed the importance of student engagement on campus.

“I think collaboration is most important because there are intersecting identities amongst our student population,” said Lim. “We thought it was important to bring the programs together because student engagement is important and if they see others who are in the same programs or a different program it builds that community.”

Over the month of February, Umoja Black Scholars has held many events in celebration of Black History Month. Guererro is planning events for students in the coming month. On March 15, The Rainbow Pride Center and The Veterans Resource Center will host an event for Women’s History Month called Women Veteran and LGBTQ Paint and Lunch.

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