Ceramic artwork “mixes well” at Tussey

By:  Alivia Melius

Things are currently “heating up” in Tussey Mountain High School’s art department. Through connections with the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (SAMA), many new projects are now underway. As of Jan. 14, SAMA art in resident Robert Zabrosky began working again with students on “molding” their ideas into reality.

Zabrosky added Tussey to his list of schools he works with during the 2018-2019 school year for a ceramic mural project. “When I found out we were having [Zabrosky] back in to help, I was really excited to see what his idea was for a school project,” senior Ceramics II student Logan Runk said.

This year’s SAMA art plans consisted mostly of clay projects for the students to engage in. Each year, a main project is decided upon based on what materials are available at school. This year, students decided to create decorative tiles for the courtyard on the school’s campus. Other projects include Tussey Mountain logo casts, ceramic mugs, and other ceramic artworks such as large centerpiece bowls. To enhance their experience with clayworks, Zabrosky provided a slab roller, a tool for making clay slabs, for art students to experiment with in the classroom. Zabrosky also assists students on their projects alongside art teacher Adam Baughman.

Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art’s Robert Zabrosky shows junior Kieran Gresko the ways of the pottery wheel
Photo Credit:  Amelia Dibert

“[At one time] the courtyard had planting boxes, but the person who was responsible for putting plants in those boxes retired,” Zabrosky said.

Baughman plans to make steps in the walkways that circle the courtyard.

“It’s going to be more of an environment that is going to [contain art pieces so] it can be more pleasing for people to go out there,” Zabrosky said.

“My favorite project is definitely the tiles,” Sophomore Art II student Kierstan Wheeler said. “I really like the solar system, so my friends and I designed planets in our tiles. I made Jupiter and Saturn for mine,” Wheeler added. 

“[My tiles] were the four horsemen of the apocalypse,” Runk added. “I took the designs online.”

“I think it’s really cool because students get to add to [decorating the courtyard], and we get to make our mark,” Wheeler said.

“Projects in this class have encouraged communication skills, as I have helped Mr. Baughman show the Ceramics I students how to use the wheel,” Runk added.

Students were advised to rely on their own imagination when designing the courtyard tiles.

“One thing that Mr. Zabrosky and I like to encourage is [individual creativity.] We don’t want to specifically tell [a students] what [his] subject matter is,” Baughman said. “We just left it up to the artist’s mind and eye to make what they want.”

With creativity comes great power to explore and create. Students were not limited to what projects they chose to take on in the class.

“My favorite project in this class was definitely making the dragon, however it ended up blowing up in the kiln,” Runk said. “I was able to fully interpret my own version of a dragon.”

Students currently work towards painting their tiles for future placement outside. “We are looking forward to the end results of students’ work” Baughman said. 

“I think SAMA is a great organization for allowing us to be able to make something that is going to be seen by students for years to come,” Runk said.

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