South Orangetown Central School District

Day in Clay assembly

South Orangetown Middle School sixth graders were treated to a special “Day in Clay” assembly last week! Ceramic artist and professor Cliff Mendelson demonstrated different techniques he uses to create large-scale pottery forms and how artists incorporate history and culture into their work.

SOMS Art teacher Allison Meyers helped to organize this event for sixth grade students. “Through demonstrations and student participation, Cliff engages students’ creativity and encourages cultural exploration,” explained Meyers. “This assembly was especially meaningful because it brought together Art, Social Studies, Science and culture. These interdisciplinary lessons are fun for the students, and valuable for them to see their teachers from different departments working together.”

During the assembly, Mendelson used live demonstration and multi-media to compare forms, design and symbolic imagery in Native American, Hispanic, African, Greek, Japanese, Latin American, African and Asian cultures—both classical and contemporary. After he formed the clay pot, students took turns carving their own designs into the clay. “Students learn about formal design, and how the clay pot reveals specific design characteristics that tell stories for every culture. They become part of the design process, engaging in dialogue with the artist as the vase emerges,” said Mendelson.