Photo by Julianna Sagliano.
Tejas Moses, a Fine Arts: Ceramics & Sustainability major who completed the Research Experience and Apprenticeship Program (REAP) in summer 2017, was featured in the February 2018 edition of The College Letter. You may learn more about him in that article as well as in the one reprinted below, which first appeared in The New Hampshire on November 2, 2017.
Student becomes lecturer in latest PCAC art talk
According to Don Williams, a ceramics professor at UNH, the Last Thursday of the Month Art Talk series that takes place within the Paul Creative Arts Center usually features alumni of the Art Department discussing their experiences in the "outside world.” However, this past Thursday, Oct. 26, sophomore bachelor of fine arts in ceramics student Tejas Moses, 20, was the highlighted speaker.
In the spring semester of 2018, Moses, a UNH honors student and ceramics and sustainability dual major, applied for and received a grant through the Research Experience and Apprenticeship Program (REAP) to do summer research on how to locally and sustainably acquire (as well as work with) clay. His discussion revolved around the meaning and history behind his research, its products, as well as around his own experiences as a budding ceramicist.
Moses, from Dublin, New Hampshire, first became interested in pottery in high school after taking his first ceramics course. Before he started his freshman year at UNH Moses spent seven months backpacking abroad in places like Europe and India with a high school friend. Moses stated that this trip gave him time to think and helped him to confirm that he wanted to pursue a study of ceramics and become a working artist.
"I met many people and some of the happiest people I met were people who work with their hands,” Moses stated.
He continued, "We hitchhiked with this guy in Australia who did Bonsai and was a potter, and he was the jolliest fellow… I saw this connection, especially in India where they don’t have a lot of money and generally people are very poor, but they find a lot of happiness and I think that seemed to be connected to doing things with their hands, not necessarily just pottery, but … farming and that kind of thing.”
The pottery that Moses created this summer was based off of the style of folk pottery. Moses started his discussion with a brief recount of the history of folk pottery and a story about the first time that he saw the style in the Pucker Gallery in Boston.
"I was struck by these very simple pots… they’re Japanese, they’re folk pottery which means that they are not high art pots in any way, but they are made for the people, by the people, so that’s kind of the impetus for this project.”
Moses showed pictures of pots in this genre of pottery, explaining how they were "thrown” (or created), and compared pictures of his own work to others of the folk style.
Moses continued to talk about the makeup of clay itself and how it is formed, as well as how he found it himself, locally after a full month of searching. Moses explained the process of how he independently shoveled the clay material from the ground into buckets and went through the entire process of testing, mixing, waiting for the clay to "flocculate” (or become a mass) and sifting the clay through a window screen to get rid of extra and unneeded particles, before the clay finally gained the plasticity it needed in order for him to work with it.
Moses then went on to describe what the point of his research project truly was. He spoke about how the quality of the clay and the folk style that he was imitating required him to work more quickly and efficiently with the clay due to the nature of it.
"[It] kind of came in an ‘Ah-ha’ moment when I started working with the clay because the quality of it steers the forms and the way that you make things… you have to make things very quickly and simply… and that means you make more of it, and because you are making more you get better at making them quickly, so really the clay became the teacher of making folk pottery,” Moses stated.
During this reflection of the point of his project, he also recounted how he used only human powered equipment in order to help satisfy the sustainable aspect of his project. Moses was able to feel the more intimate qualities of the clay by processing it all by hand.
Moses stated that his REAP research project this past summer helped him to improve his skills as a ceramicist, and he considers it to be his most proud accomplishment. At the end of his presentation, Moses vocalized why he is so interested in the art of pottery, although he stated that it is "not easily explained in words, but is better explained in the doing of the thing.”
"When you talk about pots, there are always human characteristics that you talk about, they have a shoulder, neck, foot… they are very related to people in a way, and I think that the qualities I admire in pottery are the same that I admire in people, and that is modesty, and humbleness and aesthetic beauty, but not ostentatious in any way and not delicate and fragile, and made to do something, and not made to hang on the wall, they are made to have a function.”