Welcome back! This week we have Ceramics and Arts Administration major Emma Pilon. Emma is a senior (and former blogger) who has traveled to different places while at Marywood and tends to make large ceramic works (2-3 feet tall!).
Name: Emma Pilon, Class of 2017
Major: Ceramics and Arts Administration
Minor: Art History
I am majoring in Art because: I really had no idea what I was going to study in school when it came time to go away, but beginning in high school, throwing clay was something that never failed to make me feel fulfilled. If you’ve touched soft, plastic clay before, you know what I mean. It’s so cathartic to manipulate clay in all kinds of ways. It was only when I got to Marywood and started interfacing with Professor Matt Povse (who’s since retired) and the clay studio, and the ceramics students that I started to understand not just how satisfying, but also how prosperous a career in ceramics could be. There was a whole craft world out there I had never known about. I abandoned my inhibitions about the uncertainty of a degree in art, focused on what could be with a little hard work, and never looked back.
The kinds of things that inspire me are: I’m inspired by a lot of things. I am a dual major so I find I draw a lot of inspiration from my other program of study – Art Administration – which has attracted me to modern and contemporary artists like Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Ryman, and Mark Rothko. I’m also inspired by contemporary craftsmen like Lee Kang-Hyo, Jean Nicolas Gerard, Jun Kaneko, and Lauren Mabry, as well as the greats that lived through the american contemporary craft movement, like Peter Voulkos and Paul Soldner and Don Reitz who, in short, helped bridge the gap between the art world of abstract expressionism and the craft world of ceramics. Take my word for it… you’re gonna want to look them all up! Still, at the end of the day, I am simply inspired by the medium. There are so many profundities in clay, like the way we manipulate it with our hands, tactilely, which make it so immediate and therapeutic and addictive!
My favorite class so far was: I’ve taken many classes at Marywood that made me so much more passionate than I could have ever anticipated. I think my nineteenth century and women’s art history classes tie for first place. Being able to take those courses in back to back semesters made making connections between the two pretty effortless, and the “Aha!” moments so satisfying. We have had so many challenging and engrossing conversations in those classes, and through a desire to understand the artists and their works, I feel increasingly successful as a more serious and independent researcher, being able to satisfying my mounting curiosities. Taking art history really tuned me into another sector of art that was and is outrageously fascinating to me.
When I’m not in class: I love to simply relax at home. I’ve recently found I love to cook, and try new recipes when I have the time and ingredients. If I want to get out though, I’m satisfied finding a cozy spot in one of the many homey coffee shops around the Scranton area, and in the winter months, skiing at Montage Mountain is always fun. I also like going to the gym. My work is growing in size; most of my pieces stand about two to three feet tall and weigh anywhere between 40 and 60 pounds, give or take, so I need the strength to get them from kiln to kiln!
The coolest thing I’ve done so far was: I’ve done a lot of cool things as a result of the connections I’ve made at Marywood and beyond, one being my three-month internship at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but I think traveling to Portugal for a short study abroad tops my list. I was hand-picked, along with one other student, by an art history professor to assist in gathering information from a collection of ancient Roman ceramic shards, harvested from the ruins of an archaeological site called Torre de Palma. For two and a half weeks, I worked as an assistant in the National Archaeological Museum of Lisbon, handling these broken pieces of ceramic, and learning first hand all about the various clay bodies indigenous to different parts of the Roman Empire. Together, we were even able to identify shards of the same material and reassemble about half of a lost Roman amphora. I felt so lucky to have experienced such an underrated European city (I’m convinced Lisbon is a best kept secret), and to have had the perfect opportunity to meld my two passions in the professional world – ceramics and art history.
When I graduate: I hope that when I graduate, I can continue to make my artwork, to cultivate a more mature portfolio, and learn more about operating a professional ceramics studio. I am currently applying for several internships, fellowships, and short term residencies at studios and craft schools where I can do just that, as well as continue to make connections with leaders in the ceramics field. I’m very interested in seeing different parts of the country at this point in my life as well, and would be thrilled to be moving towards an area where ceramics and craft may have a stronger presence in the minds of makers and consumers. I’m also very attracted to Philadelphia, and could see myself setting up something more permanent there in a few years, like a pottery business, or a potential career in the museum environment; or maybe even do both. But for the more immediate future, I want to develop myself further outside of academia. I’m willing to bet the real world is a pretty good teacher.
I’d recommend the Art program at Marywood because: You’ve probably heard it a thousand times over, but at Marywood, you are a unique individual, not a number. I find it very hard to believe that the same opportunities I have had the pleasure of experiencing here would be offered to me at a larger university, where I might be lost among the crowd, and competing to rise above my peers enough to be noticed. Professors bend over backwards for students who show even the slightest bit of interest, investigation, ambition, or passion. This genuine a connection between student and instructor, and even student to student, cannot be forged, and certainly helped me nurture what it was that made me motivated, and turn it into a career.
Some of Emma’s Work
Until next time!