Sculpture: Raku is a popular visual arts class taught in the spring where students utilize the outdoor Raku kiln to fire a series of pieces that they create while learning about the traditional pottery style. Raku involves a unique method of firing which originated in Japan in connection with the Tea Ceremony. In the creation of Raku, the pieces are removed from the kiln while red hot, and then may be placed directly into materials, such as leaves or sawdust, to be reduced in an air-free atmosphere. The pieces are then are cooled instantly in cold water, and the process creates beautiful glaze effects each time.
There are a handful of different assignments that students complete individually, and students often use time outside of class to continue working on their intricate projects. Assignments included the creation of tea bowls, water buckets, vases, and small creatures. Another assignment required students to construct their own brushes with which they painted about 30 circles using India Ink, eventually having to choose the 4 that best represented life.
The great risk of the Raku process is that the clay pieces may become damaged, either in the firing process or in use, which students have learned as a meaningful metaphor for detachment and acceptance. Madeleine, a senior at CSW, loved the lessons on life that she reaped from this course. “I’ve learned to detach from ideals of perfection. The tea bowl creation process showed me it was okay to make something and have it be ruined. Part of Raku is the risk that the item might break when it gets fired and cooled quickly. Before this class, I always assumed that great art had to be about attachment and connection, and I see that it’s also about detachment.”