Although many students at Elizabethtown College often find themselves in the Steinman Center for class, to work at the radio station, or to take part in the many television shows, most fail to take advantage of what the first-floor art studios have to offer.
There are several art classes available for students to take, depending on what medium they find most interesting. These include printmaking, ceramics and sculpture. Dr. Milton Friedly, artist and instructor of most of these classes, was able to provide a lot of interesting information on what the art department has to offer. “In regards to sculpture, there are a total of about 35 students a year taking the class and about the same amount in ceramics classes, including beginner, intermediate and advanced classes,” Friedly said.
In the ceramics studio, there is state-of-the-art machinery that students can utilize for class. “We have electric kilns, for bisk firing and low fire glaze. We have a larger gas kiln that we use for high fire reduction for both pottery and sculpture,”Friedly said, “all of which have up-to-date-safety equipment.”
The machinery in the studio ranges in use from projects for beginner to more advanced classes. One of the most interesting mediums students can work with, and take classes in, is bronze work. “For welding we have meg, tick and stig welders which can weld steel, cast iron, aluminum, bronze and other alloys,” Friedly said. “There are also cut-off saws, band saws, drill presses, and table saws as well.”
When sculpting, whether with bronze or ceramic, there is a very long and detailed process that must be followed for a piece to be successful.
With bronze, the process is more intricate, as there is a necessary wax-casting process to make refractory molds for the bronze to actually have the desired shape. With ceramics however, the process is simpler, due to the fact that clay can be used directly. “You could build it directly by either using thrower pots or making a figure out of any material, making a mold for that out of plaster and then slip casting it with a clay slip,” Friedly said.
Aside from sculpture classes, which provide the opportunity to try both ceramic and bronze work, there are also classes in printmaking. “The objective of printmaking is to be able to make more than one of the image you are working,” Friedly said. “It is not as tactile as working with a piece of clay or wax.” There are many different aspects to printmaking such as etching, a drawing class in which you use pastel resists on a plate followed by the etching, which entails moving the metal where you’ve drawn the lines thus creating a picture on the plate, as well as making collagraphs, which is a way of making a collage on a plate.
Although there are only about 40 students who take these classes each year, there are usually a few students who can be found in the studio both during and after class working on their pieces. Senior Lauren Krissinger and junior Megan Kenneweg are both students who take classes in sculpture and ceramics. They are avid students in the art department and find a lot of enjoyment in taking the classes.
“I like them [the sculpture and ceramics classes] because you can create anything you want,” Krissinger said. “There’s never any right or wrong answer.” An art and education major, Kenneweg finds enjoyment in the challenges that come with the courses. “It’s very relaxed, and [Dr. Friedly] really pushes you to do your best work. It really makes you think about your artwork in other ways than you envisioned.” Both students highly recommended that more people take some of these courses. “It could definitely be a class for anyone,” Kenneweg said. “He works with you for any ability level and really knows his stuff.”
Friedly is not only a teacher of these mediums, but also an active artist and sculptor himself. “I started working here in January of 1987,” Friedly said. “I’ve been a working resident artist, meaning I work on campus primarily for all these years.” All of his experience with these mediums shows in his dedication to teaching and the enjoyment he gets from sharing his passion with students.
It’s clear that there are many interesting and easily attainable art courses for students to choose from that have been hidden in obscurity for too long. There are numerous classes in ceramics, sculpture and printmaking in a variety of approaches and using a variety of different materials. These classes can count as creative expression core requirements.
“Art is the process of discovery,” Friedly said. “Throughout the process of making something, you’re discovering things not only about the process, but you’re learning about yourself.”