The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Unlocking possibilities through ceramics

Janine Shuman
campus editor

Despite rain pouring down on the metal
roof of the outdoor workshop, Watson
carefully glazes his work.

Behind a coffee mug planted on a desk are several days of imagination, meticulous sculpting, glazing, firing and precision, but not many people consider the story these items have to tell. Associate professor of art Karmien Bowman said TCC’s ceramics curriculum enables students to appreciate the artwork surrounding them.

The ceramics program teaches students beyond the creation of art, Bowman said. Students also learn the history of clay as a medium for shaping vessels, cultural contributions and awareness of possibilities in the industry today.

Bowman recently won a first-place award from the Texas Sculpture Association for her sculpture “Buildings on my Mind”, a piece inspired by her connection to her childhood home of Dallas.

“I am inspired by personal experience and the medium of clay,” she said. “Content is personal and also takes on a universal theme, I hope.”

Her bronze cast sculpture took 15 years to cultivate between sabbaticals, important responsibilities, and lack of finances at times. 

What people may not appreciate is the significant cost, effort and work that went into creating it.

Bowman’s pieces can be found all around the state installed in various city parks including Heritage Park in Flower Mound and The North Lakes Park.

Bowman hopes to see her award-winning sculpture installed in the DFW area someday, a representation of her love for the state she grew up in.

Glazed ceramics vases are lined up outside the kiln — a furnace for burning, baking
or drying — awaiting to be fired at temperatures of up to 2,284 degrees Fahrenheit.

NE Campus student Breanne Schwarz took her first ceramics class with professor Bowman at TCC in 1998, where she found her calling.

“Professor Bowman and I both remember the moment when I was holding a beautiful bowl I had made fresh out of the kiln, and I looked up at her and said in wonderment, ‘You can major in this?’ and she said, ‘Well, yes, that’s what I did,’” Schwarz said. “So I eventually wound up at University of South Florida with an art degree.”

NE student David Bugbee took a ceramics class at TCC in the early ‘90s and recently returning to a familiar face.

“Life got busy with work, and I was absent from the campus until just a couple of years back when I started back and was more than excited that Professor Bowman was still there at the helm,” he said.

While there are many options to fulfill an art credit, the ceramics program is very different than others by its nature, associate professor of art Suzanne Perez said.

In addition to challenging perception, students can learn various sculptural approaches, she said. 

Due to its hands-on nature, the ceramics program suffered during the transition to the virtual platform. 

 “Students were disappointed we could not be hands-on in the clay, but they thought to sign up anyway,” Bowman said. “It has been a learning experience, of course, with some assignments being more fun than others.”

NE student Jamie Myers makes the most of the online environment but acknowledges the advantages of in-person learning.

Pegasus sculpture stands on display at the Grapevine Towers building.
Karmien Bowman’s “Buildings on My Mind” is on display at the Grapevine Towers building.









“Ceramics is a very tactile process,” she said. “Much of what we learn is done so in the moment and is best absorbed by engaging and learning from one another. Online learning is useful, there is a lot of information and projects that can be passed on in that format and worked on from home, but I thrive in the in-person class.”

For Bugbee, the campus shutdowns restricted his ability to produce art because he lacked access to necessary resources.

“If I did not have my own pottery wheel at home, I pretty much would have accomplished nothing,” he said. “With the campus in constant complete lockdown for months, getting anything fired and glazed was basically non-existent.”

As the TCC community returns to campuses this fall, ceramics program students and professors look forward to a semester together in a newly renovated studio.

“I am eager and excited to greet all the students again,” Perez said. “To see the classrooms and hallways filled with everyone, there’s a lot of energy in the Art Department, and being online can’t truly duplicate that environment.” 

NE student Sam Watson pours glaze over his ceramic piece, gently rotating it in the other hand. He has several pieces on display in the Grapevine Tower Gallery. Photos by Azul Sordo/The Collegian
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