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Montclair State’s Artistic Hidden Gem

by Ekaterina Zelenin

Art, though a truly beautiful subject, is not everyone’s forte. I knew going into Montclair State University with limited knowledge of the subject (drawing, painting and dancing) that art wasn’t something I would be pursuing. With the tedious burden of Montclair State requiring the fulfillment of general education courses, I found myself staring at the computer screen and the unfulfilled art section of my general education classes.

Objects in Clay was an impromptu choice for me. I liked that this ceramics class ran once a week and was later in the day. Since I had scheduled 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. classes for the rest of my courses, the quiet 5:30 p.m. class on a Wednesday night sounded quite favorable to me.

Since the class only required prerequisites such as College Writing 105, I figured that its physical tasks would not be as challenging for a newcomer. This choice ended up being one of the best I’ve made.

The ceramics class presents an amazing atmosphere, one that is welcoming and intimate at the same time. The professor provides a solid level of instruction but encourages independent creativity as each student gets to design their own sculpture.

The entire class consists of students making their impressive, large figurines and listening to music while they work. As students master their clay, Professor Mari Ogihara walks around and provides help as well as tips on how to improve each person’s design.

Ogihara conducts lectures and presentations for a portion of the class, but the majority of the evening is devoted to the projects. Ogihara revealed that she has three major goals when it comes to teaching.

“My first goal is to teach foundation skills to making clay,” Ogihara said. “Second is to bring awareness to the variety you can make out of clay. My third is to assist students in finding their unique voice in making clay.”


A closer look at the process of creating art.
Carmela Winter | The Montclarion

In her class Ogihara wants to make sure that each student learns the proper technique to building, and she does this by providing instruction. The rest, as she states in class, comes from the creativity of her own students.

Much of the class is spent working and students are free to have conversations with anyone they please. This liberty allows a collective bond to form between people of different ages, majors and skills.

Kiyana Moore, a senior English major, commented on her thoughts about taking Objects in Clay.

“I wanted to do something for leisure and not have as much stress as in my other classes,” Moore said. “[Ceramics] definitely relaxes me. I recommend this class. It’s messy, but it’s really fun.”

The class’s likability seems universal among those who take it.

Matthew Och, a pre-major freshman, expressed that he loves taking Objects in Clay.

“I am enjoying it. I like that it’s in a workshop and you get to work with your hands,” Och said. “It’s not in a traditional classroom setting. I would definitely recommend it if you don’t want to work with pen and paper.”

As a pre-major freshman myself, I agree with both of these remarks. I was apprehensive about taking an art course, but Objects in Clay not only builds imperative foundations in the ceramics skill, it also allows a person to access their inner artistic abilities.

The class is incredibly fun but it can also get very messy, so do not go in there wearing your Dolce and Gabbana or carrying a Louis Vuitton handbag.

If you are someone looking to fulfill the art requirement or are just looking for a fun and relaxing course, then Objects in Clay is right for you.

This course is a great way to get your mind off other school demands and to express your artistic side. The projects are not overly difficult and the professor permits walking in on your own time and working on them if you feel like you need more time.

Objects in Clay, a hidden gem of our school, is one of those art classes you never hear much about, but really should be taking. So for your next semester, be sure to book this wonderful course.


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