Ceramics exhibits explore the beauty of form

April 24, 2009

Earlier this month, the Arizona State University Museum of Anthropology broke an attendance record as more than 1,000 visitors from around the globe passed through its gallery in a single week.

The lure? Dual ceramics exhibits – Simply Formal and Past Forms – which are continuing to draw crowds. Download Full Image

Complementing one another, Simply Formal, curated by noted studio potter Susan Filley, presents contemporary work by some of the nation’s top ceramic artists, while Past Forms offers student-curated pieces, like Ancient Puebloan vessels and Mesoamerican effigy jars, from the holdings of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The school offers a unique interdisciplinary program in museum anthropology and a certificate in museum studies. The program’s exhibit design and development graduate seminar is taught by museum exhibit developer Judy Newland, who guided her students in the creation of Past Forms.

She saw the concurrency of a student-produced exhibit of collections pieces and a show by distinguished contemporary artists as a dynamic pairing. That thinking seems to have paid off.

The exhibits’ opening coincided with the annual conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, held in Phoenix, which may account for the initial throngs. But enthusiastic word of mouth has fueled the continued influx of museum visitors.

Newland says that guests are “quite thrilled to see contemporary ceramics in an anthropology museum but also excited to see whole pots—and pieces—from the school’s archaeological and ethnographic collections.”

Several big names in the world of ceramics have lent their work to Simply Formal. Tom Coleman, David Crane, Donna Craven, Bill Griffith, Chris Gustin, Mark Hewitt, Kerry Moosman, Ellen Shankin, Michael Simon and Tom Turner are among the featured artists.

The exhibits aren’t just for aesthetic exploration. They directly engage visitors by asking them to consider questions posted near displays, to contemplate the concepts of form and function and, in some cases, to touch the ceramics.

Jeff Oestrich invites guests to handle his series of six stoneware pieces, which includes a soy bottle and tea bowl. Upon approaching the Past Forms portion of the gallery, visitors are given another tactile opportunity: this time delving into a box of sherds and coil and pinch pots.

The exhibits appear to have something for anyone interested in culture, history or the arts. One guest likened the transformed museum space to a “high-end New York gallery.” Another raved that the show was “Absolutely stunning” and “Gave me goosebumps!” Those are just a sampling of the positive remarks already on the guest comment sheets, which seem destined to be filled with many more in the weeks ahead.

Simply Formal and Past Forms will run through May 31, 2009. The ASU Museum of Anthropology is open 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Friday, when school is in session and is located in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, room 240, on the ASU Tempe campus. For more information on the museum or its exhibits, call 480-965-6224 or visit asuma.asu.edu.

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


Men's swimming inks four for 2009-10

April 24, 2009

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The Arizona State men's swimming and diving team announces four new signees to their 2009-10 class. Jesper Akesson, Sean Niccolucci, Grayson Repp and Joseph Wasko have all signed national letters of intent to study and compete at Arizona State University, announces head swimming coach Michael">http://thesundevils.cstv.com/sports/c-swim/mtt/chasson_michael00.html">M... Chasson.

Canadian Grayson Repp will join the Sun Devils' men's team this fall after having competed for Island Swimming. A club teammate of recently signed women's recruit Cassie Morrice, Repp will come in as a middle-distance free-stylist and make an immediate impact in the Sun Devil lineup.

"Grayson's short course times are pretty close to making the NCAA cuts," said assistant coach and men's recruiter Simon">http://thesundevils.cstv.com/sports/c-swim/mtt/percy_simon00.html">Simon Percy. "This is impressive, there are very few guys coming out of high school with NCAA type times."

Another middle distance swimmer that will join the men's team in the fall is Sean Niccolucci from Missoula, Montana. A raw yet talented swimmer, Niccolucci will also look to add depth to the program.

"Sean swims for David Berkoff, who was an icon in the backstroke in the 80s," said Percy. "He has very little experience, but he has dropped a lot of time this year. He rounds out that middle distance group."

The Sun Devils will also gain a transfer in the fall in Jesper Akesson. Akesson will transfer from Wayne State where he was a six-time Division II All-American. Originally from Sweden, Akesson will serve as a sprint freestyler and will also compete in the sprint breaststroke events.

"Jesper has dropped a lot of time this year," said Percy. "He's a 44 high freestyler, 44 low relay guy. He will also give us some versatility in the sprint breaststroke. He will help in pretty much all our relays."

The final spring signee for the men hails from Northern California. Joseph Wasko will provide depth for the Sun Devils in the backstroke and freestyle events. An excellent student, Wasko will be enrolled in ASU's top-ranked Barrett Honors College on an academic scholarship. He is a three-time CIF Northern Section Outstanding Male Swimmer of the Year.

"Joey has the potential to be an NCAA qualifier in a couple of years," said Percy. "He's got good tools and is a good depth guy for the program."

Akesson, Niccolucci, Repp and Wasko will join Caleb Veazey, who signed in the fall. Veazey, who will swim the distance events for the Sun Devils, would have been an Olympic Trials qualifier but the bullhead was off by three centimeters and therefore made his time void.

"Caleb was basically the cornerstone of our men's recruiting class; we pretty much built around him," said Percy. "He has had a really good senior year and he's gotten even faster. "