Two in-depth assignment ideas from Ben Carter

The following are research-based assignments based off of free archives that I have built.

History of Ceramics (@historyofceramics) – Instagram feed draws from auction house catalogues and digital collections from museums. 380 posts

Tales of a Red Clay Rambler Podcast– Podcast feed available via Apple Podcasts and other podcast servers. 317 episodes

  1. Tracking the Aesthetic Lineage of a Ceramic-Producing Region with @HistoryofCeramics on Instagram

Track the aesthetic lineage of a ceramic-producing region by searching images on the @historyofceramics Instagram feed. Scroll the feed and choose an image that you are attracted to. Use the caption information from that image to find the original source on the museum website, where you can find location, date, type of material, etc. and use that data to answer the following questions:

  1. What social class was this object created for? Was the maker part of the same social class as the consumer?
  2. How did this object survive until today? Was it traded to a place that considered it precious, disposable, or useful?
  3. In what kind of rituals might this object have been used? (i.e. burial rituals, etc.) How might that have made it possible for us to see it today?

There are many directions you could go with the assignment, based on the needs of the class you are teaching. The questions could be focused on understanding how it was made (materials, technology, etc.) or more on why it was made (historical social and cultural contexts.) There are also enough images that you could focus on a particular time, region, or both (medieval, early modern, South America, Ottoman Empire, etc.)

II.         Understanding How the Field of Ceramics Functions, using Tales of a Red Clay Rambler

Use the Tales of a Red Clay Rambler archive as a resource for research on the field and the professional roles within it. The TRCR archive contains over 300 podcast episodes of interviews about a wide variety of topics, including sculpture, functional work, installation, methods of firing, etc. For this assignment, you will find and listen to three different podcast episodes, one from each of the following categories: maker, collector/gallerist, museum/academic professional.

To find a person within each category, visit On the landing page there are visual examples from all the artists that are featured on the show. In addition to a visual search you can use the search bar on the episode guide page to search for keywords. With this method you can search for words like “collector”, “gallery owner”, or “residency.”

Spend some time looking thru the website at different episodes, and pick out three: one maker, one curator or collector, and one museum/academic professional. Compare their lives and careers, and answer the following questions:

  1. What type of education did the person need to have this job?
  2. What activities does this person engage in on a daily basis? How do they balance their time if they are doing more than one activity?
  3. How does this person contribute to the field of ceramics?
  4. Which of these professions can I see myself doing? And why do I think I’m well suited to have a similar job to this person?

The questions can be tailored to the needs of the class. The goal of the assignment is to understand how individuals make up the field of ceramics and how the student can best contribute to the field based on their education and experience.


Posted on

March 20, 2020

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