By TIM SMITH
Although it was raining, cold, and dreary outside, last Friday, January 23, was a great night inside for our UNCG students, both for de-stressing and for learning a bit about Native American culture. Our event started at 7:00 pm. The Pottery on Wheels program from Mad Platter came over with a number of blank bowls (our blank canvasses) and started to set up with color trays for each table.
Despite the projector going missing, our program coordinator, Tiffany Merritt still gave a brief presentation about tribal groups—including Alaska natives, Hawaiian and Polynesian, Great Plains, and eastern tribes—and their art, using both her computer and the assistance of GLC curriculum developer, Mary Walker. Their presentation about Native American pottery and examples of Native patterns helped inspire people with their own bowls.
The student bowls ended up being very unique. Some students took a very traditional route for their artwork. One of our students, Charles, created a beautiful piece using a poem and image combination. He wrote a poem about drinking wine that reminded me of Li Bai or Du Fu. The landscape was beautiful, with a setting sun, blue roof-tiled houses, and mountains in the distance. It was a very calming window into what could be part of the Chinese countryside.
Other students took a more contemporary approach to their artwork. Paul, one of the students from this year’s January cohort, decided to do a funny image of a Japanese manga character: Crayon Shinchan. Joe, a student who arrived in October, adorned his bowl with images of Pokémon: Squirtle, Bulbasaur, and Pikachu were some of those characters he chose. Still some students chose to paint traditional themes in more contemporary ways, such as Yuerong who painted her bowl inside and out with cherry blossom trees.
Even our staff had the chance to paint and have fun with the students. Program Director, Enoch Chow, painted his favorite ice hockey team logo. He also painted a minion character from the movie Despicable Me. GLC teacher and advisor, Michelle Danner, painted a bowl with a beautiful flower in the inside. I made a more contemporary painting of a blossoming plum tree. Mary Walker’s mother also came to the event and participated. Even former interns, such as Jordan Griffin, came to enjoy painting with current students.
Mad Platter brought enough bowls that students could paint two, and many of the students took advantage of that opportunity. Having enjoyed the activity so much, a number of the students talked about continuing this sort of activity. The Mad Platter offers free studio fees to college students on Tuesdays; most of the students were eager to go and participate. All the students, however, remarked on how wonderful it was to have an outlet to get rid of their stress. The students look forward to doing similar things in the future.