University of London History Clay Artist Research Paper


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Study the work and life of one clay artist working in the hand-building tradition. Remember this is a ceramic class, if the artist you choose works in another media, be sure to write and evaluate his/her ceramic works.

Prepare a typed, double-spaced research paper synopsis (2 page minimum) describing the forms, surface treatment and firing style, time considerations in relation to historical uses and contemporary uses, aesthetics of the style and how it applies to your own ideals of art making and artwork. Be sure to discuss technical as well as aesthetic concerns, clay body types relevant to the style and its impact on the surface characteristics. Discuss what you would change about the process if anything or what you would be interested in altering. Must include images supporting research. When referencing specific works, biographical information on the artist is not necessary. This research is about the artwork, not the life of an artist. Use MLA style to cite references. Must cite references or paper will receive a grade of F. The JU library and the Internet should have plenty of resources to use for this. Students should select a topic and begin research early. Ask the professor questions if the topic is unclear.

Historical topics: Egyptian hand-built Vessel or Icon Forms, Minoan (Crete) Animal Figures, Greek Narrative Vessel Forms, Greek Attic Ware, Chinese hand-built Forms (any dynasty), Japanese Yixing Tea Forms, Islamic Tile Forms, Newcomb Pottery Ware with hand-carved imagery, Italian Renaissance Maiolica Figurines, Persian, Safavid and Kajar periods, German Saltware, French Porcelain, hand-built Dutch Delftware, English Staffordshire or Creamware

Early contemporary artist: Robert Arneson, Rudio Audio, Peter Voulkos, Steven DeStaebler, Hans Cooper, Michael Cardew, Betty Woodman, Ruth Duckworth, Viola Frey, Wayne Higby, Karen Karnes, Frans Wildenheim, Bernard Leach, Toshiko Takaezu, Lucie Rie, Ron Nagle, Paul Soldner, Ken Ferguson, Richard Hirsch, Beatrice Wood

Late contemporary artist: Dirk Staschke, Linda Sormin, Kim Dickey, Jess Riva Cooper, Megan Bogonovich, Tim Christensen, Kina Crow, Nancy Adams, Shauna Fahley, Alex Mandli, Melanie Ferguson, Natalie Blake, Jennifer Falter, Kenny Sing, Jennifer McCurdy, Cheryl Malone

You may approach me with other topics for approval prior to writing the paper.


At the completion of this assignment the students will be able to report on the artist they have researched. The student will gain a greater understanding of the important role that their artist has played in the development of ceramic history.


  • We will discuss artist that may be of interest for you as I discover your style or you can choose from the list in the syllabus. You may find a ceramic artist of your choice, but please vet the artist or topic with instructor first.
  • You will need at least 2 references, 1 of those being actual hard references.
  • Write a 2 page double spaced paper
  • Use MLA format
  • Considerations:
    • This is not a biography but instead a descriptive research paper
    • What type of art does the artist make, or has made? How has the work changed over time
    • What was your favorite piece?
    • Compare with other artist with similar style
    • Where has there work been exhibited
    • What is the artist personal statement or philosophy about their work
    • In the Paper you may choose to write about the following:
      • Formal- Elements: line, shape, color, texture, value, time, space and Principles: harmony, rhythm, variety, decoration, repetition, pattern, balance, proportion, movement.
      • Technical- Aspects such as: finishing techniques, materials, firing techniques, construction techniques, clay body, glaze, etc.
      • Historical- Address the historical context the artist work fits in, or historical cultures the artist has been influenced by. Historically what ideas is the artist drawing from?
      • Conceptual- Address ideas that you see in the artist work. Why is the artist making what they are making? What are they trying to say with their artwork? Is there a greater meaning?

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