It was supposed to be a good morning. Yesterday, Samantha Pastron ’18 had put seven of her clay sculptures for her senior capstone project into a kiln at Williams Visual Arts Building to fire overnight. At 9 a.m., she is supposed to pop open the door and pull them out—seven intricately designed pottery plaques, each inscribed with a provocative saying like “OMG GOP WTF” and “Got BC?” (BC stands for birth control.)
She gets up early, pushes through a driving rainstorm to the mammoth red-brick art studio building at the base of College Hill, and opens the oven door.
She finds three finished pieces…and four piles of powder and shards.
It is what her teacher, Nestor Gil, assistant professor of art, calls “a learning experience.” To make each of the delicate pieces Pastron is planning, the California art major has to be sure to roll out all the tiny pockets of air from the clay.
If she doesn’t—BOOM. Pottery potato chips.
She lays all the broken pieces on a table. A passing professor proclaims them “cool.” Gil assures her they’ll find a use for the shards.
“Artists are great,” says Pastron. Her voice is hoarse—too much hollering during the Homecoming football game this past Saturday.
By 9:30 she’s back molding wet clay into messages. She plans to hang the pieces in various spots around campus just to see what happens.
“It might be frowned upon,” she says. She is curious to see if—no, she’s hoping someone takes them. Maybe they’ll be thrown away because of their message. Maybe they’ll wind up in someone’s personal collection.
That’s the point.
Not all the pieces are provocative. She’s putting finishing touches on a plaque that instructs readers to “Have the greatest day ever!”
“My dad says that,” Pastron says. “Every time he drops us off somewhere, he always yells from the car, ‘Have the greatest day ever!’ My dad is the sweetest person.”