Updated Ceramics Studio Merges Functionality and Ideology

February 8, 2011 Sarah Schwartz

During the Fall 2010 semester, Murphy Hall underwent some major renovations that will greatly enhance the Art and Design Department. Completed for the spring term, the updated facility features a new plaster lab, clay recycling room and a set of state-of-the-art gas burning kilns. Gregg Moore, Associate Professor of Art and Design, says the art facilities now match the department’s progressive ecological perspective.

“We’re up to speed,” he says. “The firing process is cleaner and safer with better ventilation. The most important concern is always student safety, but what isn’t always a given is efficiency. The major kiln that we tore down was built in 1990, and at 20 years old it was terribly inefficient. The new kilns are better insulated. They have better burner systems and will save the University a lot of money.”

This isn’t the first time the Art and Design Department set its sights on sustainability. Moore teams up with Dr. Lauren Howard, Assistant Professor of Biology, to teach "Envisioning Sustainability," a University Seminar that explores the relationship between contemporary art and environmental science using sustainability (global interdependence) as a conceptual nucleus.

In 2007, Moore and Howard explored the University’s existing structures and discovered an unused space in the lower turret of the clock tower.  With the hard work of Pat Ayers and Edward Orner, who did a terrific job cleaning and repairing the electrical wiring, the walls and the floors, the space has been converted into an experimental art gallery.

“Students of the ‘Envisioning Sustainability’ course were the first to use the gallery,” says Moore. “Since then we’ve opened it up to the rest of the department. Now it gets scheduled by other classes and students within and outside of a class structure.”

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