RIO GRANDE — Two students from the University of Rio Grande School of Arts and Letters had the unique opportunity to learn more about ceramics from world-famous artist William Brouillard.
Sophomore General Fine Arts majors Keri Lawrence and Gabe Richmond attended a workshop at the Huntington Museum of Art, along with their professor, Kevin Lyles.
The workshop was part of the Walter Gropius Master Artist Series which brings in respected artists to host a gallery exhibition and workshop. Lyles, professor of art, said he enjoys attending these events because there is always something new for everyone to learn.
“The Huntington Museum of Art brings in internationally recognized artists who have a show in the gallery and then a Walter Gropius workshop. There were probably 10 to 15 participants and we were there for the entire weekend working with William Brouillard,” Lyles said. “I enjoy getting to attend these workshops and learning all the tricks and tips through one-on-one time with the artists. This really helps me with my own teaching, as you never really quit learning.”
Brouillard is a ceramics artist originally from Madison, Wis. Lawrence said she enjoyed learning more about how to make ceramic pieces from Brouillard and is glad Rio gave her the opportunity to attend.
“William Brouillard taught us all about ceramics and how to make them on the wheel. He was very helpful and worked with us to show us the techniques he uses for his own work,” Lawrence said. “I feel like I learned a lot from it because before the workshop, I thought I knew more about ceramics than I actually did. It’s definitely a lot harder than it looks.
“I’m glad we received scholarships through the Helping Hands program so we could go to the workshop, and that Professor Lyles told us about it because it was a wonderful experience.”
Anyone attending Gropius workshops must pay a fee for the event. Lyles said Rio’s fine arts department gave the students a scholarship to cover the fee through the Helping Hands program, a scholarship fund created by the fine arts faculty to give their students extra financial assistance.
“About four or five years ago, Benjy Davies, chair of the School of Arts and Letters, came up with an idea to help students financially. The fine arts faculty set up a fund where we give money out of our paycheck,” Lyles said. “The students can apply for funding to help them out. Sometimes it’s used for getting our students to workshops, like with Keri and Gabe, or helping out with gas money or child care so our students can get to classes.”
Richmond said he was grateful for the scholarship because he feels he was able to use it toward the chance of a lifetime.
“Without the scholarship and help from Rio, I would probably not get the opportunity to attend anything like this workshop on my own,” he said. “This workshop at the Huntington Museum of Art was a great experience. William was a really nice guy and it was incredible to learn from him.”
Richmond said another reason he enjoyed the workshop is because he received the opportunity to learn one of Brouillard’s main styles, majolica, which involves drawing and painting on ceramic bowls or platters or dishes and is not too different from a skill he has already learned.
“The workshop was amazing. I’ve actually been a professional tattoo artist for years and I’ve been looking for something new to do in the art field. Majolica is a great way to combine my tattoo artist experience with a different form of art,” Richmond said. “It was really exciting to learn about his technique.”
Lyles said he is glad he was able to take his students to the workshop because working with Brouillard was a chance for them to see a well-known artist at work without traveling too far from Rio.
“It’s awesome to watch my students learn from these world-famous artists,” Lyles said. “The fine arts department works to give our students some world experience by taking them to places like New York and on other cultural trips, but workshops like this are another great opportunity for them. William actually let Keri and Gabe work on some pieces with him, and then let them take home these works they did together. Now they own pieces they helped a famous artist create. I’m very proud and thrilled for them.”
Lyles said he hopes to take students to more workshops like this one and encourages other instructors and students to attend these types of workshops so they can learn new ways of working in their disciplines.
Jessica Patterson is a communications specialist for the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College.