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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Sculpting a passion

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Bridget Gilmore ’18 works on making a cereal bowl in the ceramics room (Photo by Brendan Kiley ’19).

A look at the St. Joe’s ceramics room.

Bridget Gilmore ’18 had a bit of gray clay on her cheeks. Anywhere else on campus, that might look strange, but not in Boland Hall’s ceramics room.

On a Wednesday night in early April, Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” played over the quiet hum of the pottery wheel. Meandering and hypnotic, the album ended a little past midnight, but Gilmore kept on spinning her clay into a cereal bowl.

“I have been able to process a lot of things throughout senior year here,”  Gilmore said. “I credit pottery for that. It goes beyond the craft itself.”

The ceramics room, on the first floor of Boland Hall on Lapsley Lane, is a place where students of all majors can be found creating ceramics 24/7.

In the early 2000s, an increased demand for ceramics classes led to the program outgrowing its facilities, according to Ron Klein, professor of art and chair of the art department back then.

“Enrollment was going wild,” Klein said. 

In fact, Klein said, the fumes were so bad from the kilns, which then were inside Boland, that it was detrimental to people’s health. St. Joe’s had to construct a kiln shed, which now sits directly next to the building.

The room to grow helped St. Joe’s ceramics curriculum flourish, said Jill Allen, adjunct professor of art, who teaches ceramics and pottery this semester.

Allen also noted the demand to be in ceramics and pottery classes comes from all majors.

“It has to do with working with your hands and being able to work intuitively and let go of the analysis part of your brain,” Allen said.

This is what first attracted Joe Grevera ’18 to ceramics in fall of 2016. Then exclusively a food marketing major, Grevera had grown frustrated with his senior business policy course and other classes. But he was captivated by ceramics.

“Ceramics are not manipulated,” Grevera said. “With this, I am creating to be enjoyed.”

Now in his fifth year at St. Joe’s, Grevera has thrown himself into a double major in art, adding it late in his college process.

“He really caught on fire,” Klein said. “He found the passion later on.”

Grevera’s works now can be seen on display on the second floor of the Merion Hall atrium.

A leadership, ethics and organizational sustainability major, Gilmore has found a hobby in ceramics, and a fruitful one at that.

“It has given me every gift I have given to anybody,” Gilmore said with a laugh. “If it doesn’t turn out well, it goes to my mom. She gets a lot of funky pieces.”

Gilmore said she enjoys taking risks with pieces, even if they don’t end up as she intended them to look.

“A lot of times with art, it’s hard to take the leap and try something” Grevera said. “At St. Joe’s you have the facilities and the faculty to do it.”

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