The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Faculty and alumni work showcases diversity of ceramics program

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“Punk Rock 1 and 2” by Hadrian Mendoza, stoneware glaze and yellow salt clay. (Lilian Perez | The Blue & Gray Press)


Staff Writer

This February and March, the duPont Gallery will display ceramics pieces created by faculty and alumni. “Origins: UMW Ceramics Faculty and Alumni” showcases pieces created by 15 artists, including five faculty members.

The exhibit shows a variety of different pieces made of different materials with one common thread: they all exhibit the diversity of UMW’s ceramics program over the past 50 years.

The gallery includes pieces from Hadrian Mendoza, class of 1996, a stoneware potter. Mendoza majored in business at UMW, and said he “took a few art classes on the side.” He took an introduction to ceramics course during his senior year, “a step out of [his] comfort zone.”

Since then, Mendoza has become a successful potter whose pieces are in permanent collections in China, Korea, Japan, Cambodia and the Philippines. He now works at St. Thomas More Cathedral School in Arlington, Virginia as an artist and the art director.

His pieces featured in the showcase are entitled “Punk Rock 1 and 2,” and feature two heads with spikes facing each other. They are made of stoneware clay with yellow salt glaze. To Mendoza, they represent “a relationship.” He said, “if we both face anything together, we are protected from everything (as represented by the spikes facing outward).”

The exhibit also features work by faculty members, including that of Debra Balestri, class of 2003. Her work focuses on the extremities. One of her intricate pieces, “Tread Lightly,” made of low-fire clay, glaze and underglaze wood, shows two feet on which butterflies have perched.

Her other piece, “A Moment’s Touch,” made of the same material, is a hand with one butterfly gently settled on the ring finger.

Emma Lutz, a freshman, visited the gallery and enjoyed the originality of the artists. “I liked the exhibit and the focus on ceramics. I think [showcasing the alumni and faculty’s talent] is important because it shows their skill and creativity,” she said.

Lutz, an artist herself, values UMW’s focus on the arts. “To me, art is expression. This show expressed the idea of physical ideas, like how they’re solid,” she said.

For anyone looking for a unique experience on campus, consider visiting the duPont Gallery. While the gallery itself may be small, the collection is unique and feels straight out of a larger museum. “Origins” is open Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 1 – 4 p.m.

“A Moment’s Touch” by Debra Balestri, lowfire clay, glaze and underglaze wood. (Lilian Perez | The Blue & Gray Press)

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