Ceramics: Q&A with Marcos Torres
Shaping and creating an object out of various special materials is not an easy task. Rough drafts of hard clay and heat-resistant mess-ups fill the hands of students. Marcos Torres, however, isthe expert in the room, helping his ceramics students form shapes out of clay one day at a time. Torres spoke with the Beacon‘s Cagney Sweeney about life in the workshop.
CS: What classes do you teach?
MT: I teach Ceramics: Ceramics 1, Ceramics 2, Ceramics 3.
CS: Why did you choose to teach this elective?
MT: When I was in high school, I really, really loved my art classes. I actually had ceramics class, and it’s just something I’ve always wanted to teach. And so when the opportunity came up, I was really excited.
CS: What kind of student would enjoy this class?
MT: I think most students enjoy the class, really. Clay is super fun. It’s really primal. You really don’t have to be a good [artist] or anything. A lot of students might get frustrated with drawing classes because they feel like they’ve never had a drawing ability. There’s a lot of creative things you do with clay.
CS: What is a typical day in your class like?
MT: A typical day is very busy, very messy. We’ve created a lot of videos with Tar TV where we can watch the lessons on how to do stuff and access them from home. Going about the day is making, building, and glazing.
CS: What are the most popular projects that you do in your class?
MT: I wouldn’t say they’re popular; I think each project is organized by the way to build. I think the most difficult thing is when we do something called rigid slab; it’s where we build on the table with boxes. We kind of build clay, and we try to turn it into sheets. That seems to be one of the more challenging ones.
CS: What kinds of feedback do you usually get from your students?
MT: I think they come away excited and feeling like they accomplished something. Being able to make something for the real world with three-dimensional shapes, to hold it, carry it, take it home. I think that is what they find to be really rewarding.
CS: How do students get a good grade in your class?
MT: I really honor good craftsmanship, and creative risks and effort. If the kids are really trying to do something and think differently, I really like to see that.
CS: Are there any prerequisites to sign up for your class?
MT: No, not at all. Freshmen can take it, it would be your first art craft class. A senior could take it, anybody could. You can take a kid from step one and just build upon those skills.
CS: What benefits would students obtain from taking your class?
MT: I think, unfortunately, in the educational world, there’s not a lot of making of things in our schools, and there’s more websites, Google Slides. There are two or three places where kids are making things, and I think that’s a really valuable life skill. To envision something and create it with the working process.
CS: How can this class help students in their future?
MT: When we make these boxes, they’re learning about joinery. They’re learning about how math really applies to ceramics. There’s a lot of kids, honestly, where this is their first time constructing something and executing upon it to get the proper results. And another thing that’s really rad about clay is that it’s very tricky. It’s always presenting problems where there’s no answers on Google. You kind of have to scratch your head and think what’s the best outcome. You can learn some really good creative thinking skills.