The University Record, March 11, 2002

Art for the Senses participants practice the art of living

By Theresa Maddix

(Photos by Theresa Maddix)
“You should talk to Jack, he’s a duck carver.” “She’s my angel. She’s here every week.” “Twelve- or thirteen-year-old Mark made those dragons.” “You wouldn’t believe this guy who told me I’d never make it as a nurse. I told him . . .”

The buzz in the room makes Assistant Prof. Sadashi Inuzuka’s class sound more like a social event than a ceramics workshop. It’s not that the pieces being created by the group each Saturday aren’t impressive—the boats, animals and various bowls—just that Inuzuka’s atmosphere is so engaging and inviting.

Only upon close examination does it become apparent that many members of the class are low vision patients of the Kellogg Eye Center. Budding artists hold their pieces a little closer and seem to rely a bit more on their tactile experience with the clay. Co-sponsored by the Kellogg Eye Center and the School of Art and Design, the class uses several seemingly small details to contribute to its success. School of Art and Design students and Eye Center staff, led by coordinator Mary Beth Donovan, are ready to help or to talk, and coffee and donuts keep the art and conversation flowing.

But it’s Inuzuka, who has severely restricted eyesight himself, who is the key to the welcoming environment. He moves, unobtrusively, from student to student, interrupting only occasionally for demonstrations on special topics, such as how to make a tall cylinder with clay.

Participants are engaged in all parts of the ceramics creation process, from shaping, to working on the wheel, to glazing. Art and Design students fill in where needed with help in finding the right glazes and demonstrating special techniques, such as how to use the pottery wheel to create bowls.

Elza Bryan, who is legally blind, says, “People don’t realize how it is when you can’t see completely. The hardest thing was giving up driving.” Bryan says the workshop is a wonderful outlet. Her sentiment is echoed by rave reviews throughout the room.