For now, Oak Ridge High School ceramics students create sculptures, bowls, and figures.
Maybe later, they’ll create new businesses, innovative products, and groundbreaking technology.
Either way, the process is the same. Start with mush—clay for the moment. Use creativity, problem-solving, and analysis to turn the mush into something special. That’s the lesson Roane State Community College art professor Bryan Wilkerson wants the Oak Ridge students to learn in his dual credit ceramics classes.
“I treat this no differently than all of my classes,” Wilkerson said. “I want them to come away with an understanding of techniques. I’m also trying to help them develop their own artistic direction, creative problem-solving, how to start with an idea and see it through to a finished piece.”
Wilkerson worked with Oak Ridge High art teacher Gisela Schrock to offer two dual-credit ceramics courses this year. Schrock said the courses were so popular, two more will be added next school year. The Oak Ridge students also collaborated with Roane State students to create a piece on display at the college’s Oak Ridge campus.
“Bryan and I go back a long way,” Schrock said. “It’s something I have been wanting to do for a while. We combine our shared experiences. You always benefit from two views. I think the kids have benefitted a lot. I know that they are performing at a college level.”
Junior Tamia Soles said Wilkerson has taught her new techniques such as stacking.
Rather than form a large piece on a pottery wheel, she explained, the technique involves forming a small component on the wheel and then stacking a second piece on the first. The final result looks as if it’s one piece. Stacking reduces the risk of the clay collapsing.
“I have learned a lot,” Soles said. “He’s really helpful and gives a lot of good advice.”
Wilkerson said the Oak Ridge students have a strong foundation in ceramics.
“They have a nice, established program in the high school,” Wilkerson said. “I have students at the college level who have never had an art class.”
Wilkerson’s experience includes years of professional work as an artist and sculptor. One of his pieces was selected for a nationally known exhibit on Hilton Head Island. He has worked in the Knoxville art community for years, and his range of experience is considerable, from founding a business to creating sets for high school plays.
“He’s laid back and fun to be around,” student Katie Stewart said. “He’s creative—very, very creative.”
To learn more about dual credit courses offered at Roane State, visit www.roanestate.edu/dualstudies.
Roane State is a two-year college providing transfer programs, career-preparation programs, and continuing education. Founded in 1971, the college has campuses in Crossville, Harriman, Huntsville, Jamestown, Knoxville, LaFollette, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge, and Wartburg.
For more information, visit roanestate.edu or call 1-866-GO2-RSCC (1-866-462-7722).