Two Kimball Union students have received awards in both local and national exhibitions for their work in ceramics. Ari ’23 and Briana ’22 were recognized in the AVA Gallery High School Exhibition and The National K-12 Ceramic Exhibition. Both students work under the mentorship of accomplished ceramic artist and Arts Department faculty member Ursula Fries-Herfort P’14, ’17.
In competition with 10 other local high schools, the Kimball Union Arts Department submitted the work of six different student artists to the AVA Gallery High School Exhibition. “The AVA show this year was virtual,” says Fries-Herfort. “We’ve submitted work for several years now. In the past, a juror would select work but this year it was adapted for public voting on their website.”
Briana’s piece Riding the Wave won AVA’s Sculpture Category. “I was really happy that people enjoyed it,” Briana says. “I love ceramics and to get recognition for all the hard work I do is just amazing. I’m so happy.”
Fries-Herfort also entered student work in the 24th annual National K-12 Ceramic Exhibition, a national juried competition “designed to showcase the best K-12 ceramic work made in the country.” This year, juror Margie Levy selected approximately 150 of the best pieces to be included in the exhibition, some of which also received awards.
Ari’s piece Trio in Nature, was included in the exhibition and earned her a Bailey Ceramics Purchase Award, which received a cash prize to spend toward ceramics tools and supplies. “It was an accomplishment that I did not expect, and I am glad of this achievement,” Ari says. Briana’s Riding the Wave won an Artistic Merit Award.
“Until recently, we never won an award. Now, we’ve gotten in eight times and earned awards three years in a row,” boasts Fries-Herfort. “Being chosen by your teacher provides some validation to a student, but being chosen in a juried show can be an incredible confidence boost.”
Both works were created through Fries-Herfort’s Advanced Ceramics class. “The project is to make a pot that lives in an environment,” she explains. “We explore the concept of creating two or more pieces that enter into a relationship, either complimenting each other or with contrast. In this project I have received great work.”
Ari and Briana have become dedicated ceramic artists through their work with Fries-Herfort, and express their plan to continue working with clay in Ceramics Activity for at least one season per year for the remainder of their time at KUA. And, when asked what she plans to do with the prize money, Ari shows her appreciation to the program, “I’m going to donate my prize back to Ms. Fries-Herfort to buy whatever supplies the class needs.”