South Orangetown Central School District

South Orangetown Middle School sixth-graders eagerly welcomed ceramic artist Cliff Mendelson for a special “Day in Clay” assembly this morning! Mendelson demonstrated the techniques for creating large-scale pottery forms and how artists can incorporate history and culture into their work.

“We take a visual journey through cultures and time, comparing forms, design and symbolic imagery in Native American, Hispanic, African, Greek, Japanese, Latin American, African, and Asian cultures. Students learn how the clay pot reveals specific design characteristics that tell stories for each culture,” Mendelson explained.

Students were eager to participate in the creative process as Mendelson formed the vase and were invited to carve designs of their choice into the clay. Art classes will continue to work on the vases created in today’s assemblies and finish them in the school kiln.

SOMS Art teacher Allison Meyers and Social Studies/Science teacher Eric Goldstein spearheaded this event as part of their ongoing, interdisciplinary collaboration. “Eric and I work together throughout the year to help our students make connections between subjects,” said Meyers. “We feel that our lessons are more meaningful and memorable when students realize that concepts introduced in science or social studies may also be relevant to art, ELA, and so on. Interdisciplinary lessons are also fun for the students, and it is valuable for them to see teachers from different departments working together.”

SOMS students carve designs in clay vase