Science and art collide at the Whitney’s house in Hingham!! On a Sunday afternoon at the end of April AP art students spent an afternoon doing a raku firing with a local potter, Don Whitney. This is a special process and fun for us potters! Check out the video to see how chemistry and art collide when we lite our pots on FIRE!!
Raku originated in Japan but has become a popular experimental process used all over the world. However, there are many considerations before the firing takes place. The advanced pottery students needed to make a piece of work in advance and wait for it to be bisqued fired before applying a special raku glaze. Furthermore, the firing takes place outside with a gas powered kiln. Once the kiln reaches temperature at 1800 degrees, the kiln is opened and the work is placed in a metal barrel with sawdust and newspaper and a large fire erupts. Before the kiln is opened, the students needed to decide whether they would like their artwork to be reduced or oxidized because one glaze can turn out very differently depending on the chemical reactions. In a reduction, the glaze is starved of oxygen and produces copper tones. On the other hand, oxidation exposes the piece to more oxygen and therefore fire producing metallic greens and blues. The special thing about this type of firing is how many surprises their are in such a short time. The students embraced the lack of control and left with gorgeous work.
Everyone worked together to make the raku firing a success!
What an incredible trip!! During April vacation 12 students and 2 teachers went to France to experience art and culture. The group had an remarkable amount of energy. Even from the first day, taking the redeye over to Paris did not slow them down. Everyone still managed to explore Notre Dame Cathedral and the plaza attached to the contemporary art museum which was filled with sculptures and funny street performers. When they finally arrived at the hotel at night, students were excited to sleep after being awake for over 30 hours.
If you ask the group of students what the highlight of their trip was, you will get a myriad of answers simply because we managed to pack in so many wonderful things in just one week. Some of these highlight include witnessing a mass in Notre Dame Cathedral and listening to a large choir sing in that beautiful church, walking up the Eiffel Tower, visiting Monet's Garden and house on Easter Sunday, walking through hallways of masterpieces in the Musee D’orsay and the Louvre, and visiting a Roman aqueduct and coliseum.
They also had time to take out their art supplies and sketch their surroundings. One morning, the group took a painting class in the Luxembourg Gardens. This is the only garden in Paris dedicated to the Queens of France. The garden, pond and sculptures surround a summer cottage built in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici. Of course this former queen’s “summer cottage” is stunning and students enjoyed the quiet morning while taking instruction from a couple of local artist. On another occasion, students were able to explore a famous graveyard where Degas was buried, and use their time to sketch and photograph sculptures, nature and the cobblestone streets.
Within each day there were many opportunities to be completely overwhelmed and awed by the art we are experiencing. And yet they still found time to play games and interact with the art as a group. For instance, while roaming the endless galleries at the Louvre, each group stopped periodically to reenact a painting or sculpture, and of course document the new version with a camera. And the food! Most of the students loved finding new foods to try during their free time. How many different flavored macaroons did each person eat and how many passisteries were visited? Countless!
Sightseeing and eating was only made better by the incredibly interesting and funny people that were in the group. Around Paris, there were frequent security checks entering famous landmarks. This created long lines while everyone had their bag checked and walked through a metal detector. But looking back, it was while waiting in those lines that their relationships with each other deepened and they laughed and talked.