Springy/Structured

This photos was from a session on Thursday called “Pinching on Both Sides of the Brain,” led by art teacher Andrew Tomasik. He presented rationale for using more pinch in secondary ceramics – not just as an introduction to more important project, but both as a substantial exercise and a product end.

He compared the dueling qualities of standardized and divergent (differentiated) instruction in school to the stylistic tension artists face between technique and expression. Tomasik presented that geometric pots – think wheel thrown, slab built, work with heavy symmetry and tight form – should be balanced in the project sequence with organic projects – more flowing, freeform work, designed – from his perspective – to “loosen the tight mind.”

He framed this dichotomy in terms of a simple project that, ironically, would make a great introductory project to clay. He had us work first in the traditional, symmetrical round pinch technique. Then he asked us to quickly poke a few holes in the clay, and expand the form from there. Most of the people in our audience preferred working in this way, from a show of hands. Tomasik said this was because we were a more “artsy” crowd.

Although I loved the process of this hands-on session, Tomasik’s message could have been much stronger with the integration of research that supported his perspective. That research is out there – some people ARE more divergent with their thinking than others, but creativity can be taught. And there’s a lot of research out there that supports the need for it, too.

Tomasik presented that we should, “Think of clay like a spring – structured but flexible.” The presentation was delightfully springy – but I would have preferred a little more structure.

Standardized vs Divergent
As a teacher, we deal with the same tension between technique and expression…
Geometric vs Organic

Many times a pinch project is seems as just a quick activity before more important ones like coil, slab, or throwing on the wheel.
Geometric activity – tightens the loose mind

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16 thoughts on “Springy/Structured

  1. I like the whole, organic pieces loosen the tight mind and geometric pieces tighten the loose mind thing. It says you’ve gotta be artistic and creative while at the same time not losing the connection to your audience. Most people have trouble loosening their mind, but some are too far out there and can’t make their art understood by the tight minds of the public.

  2. “creativity can be taught.” This line stuck out to me. Can creativity really be taught to everyone? Or do those it is being taught to have to have an imagination and the ability to formulate creative ideas in their mind first? Yes it is easy to teach someone how to be creative, but I believe that is only so for those who already have the ideas and imaginations to do so. You can teach the physical act, but it isn’t so easy to teach the imagination part that needs to be there first.

  3. I agree with Matt. I believe you can be taught to do structures of art like throwing pots or making slabs into a piece that is interesting and unique. But the problem is was that your creative mind making the piece or was that the creative mind of the teacher giving you an idea? You have to be able to have an imagination to look at a piece of clay to come up with an idea that is truly unique. I believe that is true creativity.

    • Clay is such an interesting media from which to grow imagination and creativity – because it has a set of rules attached to it. We don’t often think of creativity springing from rules – but I think it really does! We need the rules as a platform from which to jump…

  4. I dont think creativity can be taught exactly. We all get ideas from other peoples art or “ideas.” Teaching creativity, in my own mind, is removing someones imaginative perspective from their piece and changing it so it can be done the right, but somehow still “artsy” way. We all have our own ideas and can make life easier by learning other ways to make our imagination happen (ex. me carving words with or without wax.) It was a creative idea that i learned but i did it my own way.

    • Removing imaginative perspective? I hope that I’ve never done this! I think that technique and creative expression are separate themes – but very related. Right?

  5. “Loosen the tight mind”. Wow. That’s a very great way to say it. That’s what ceramics is. It’s relaxing. It’s a way to express yourself. That really stuck with me. That is just the perfect way to say it. Ceramics isn’t like a cookie cutter. It’s not the same thing over and over, usually it’s a different thing EVERY single time. You can not make the same thing twice. Like he said its a free-flowing thing. That’s art.

  6. Creativity is really a unique talent and it defiantly doesn’t come to everyone. There are all ranges of ability but depending on the artists passion, I believe that someone with little creativity but a void for art will succeed and eventually become creative. Some people on the other hand are just given the ability to make art seem like magic (Ms. Plows, Matt Cornell)

  7. Ceramics can teach you many things throughout the course. One being creativity which is key to life, without it there would not be half the stuff we have today. Also ceramics make you think about life and have your pieces reflect on your life and your mood.

  8. I think that this is cool and innovative. i think this because he is teaching a lot of people at one time simply through video chatting.

  9. “the stylistic tension artists face between technique and expression”
    Dang.. that is so true^
    I think a huge difficulty for artists, and especially me is the balance between going crazy and making what you feel while expressing yourself through your work, and making a good piece worth displaying while not really “feeling” the piece. The best pieces of all time are the pieces that are expertly made that lets the creator really express their emotions.

      • My technique of using pinching as a means of developing the whole brain of the student is only a part of teaching art, but finding the balance between different components of creation has led me to focus on this in many exercises with my students. I have enjoyed reading the responses to my presentation and look forward to this kind of discourse on how artists create to help us all become better artists and teachers.

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