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Shaping the future: Katie Overmann reflects on study abroad
Ceramics student gains rich experience during summer residency in Hungary  

Oct 22, 2008  
By Katie Overmann  

Stories in this student-led and written Outlook series highlight the distinctive summer internships and work experiences of students from across the academic spectrum.

Katie Overmann, a senior from Batavia, Ohio, who is studying ceramics and art education, participated in an artist residency this past summer at the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemet, Hungary. Before arriving, Overmann traveled through Europe for three weeks, using the experience to fuel her artistry. The opportunity was made possible with the Student Enhancement Award from the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Dean's Undergraduate Creative Research Award through the College of Fine Arts. Here is Overmann's account of her trip:

This was my first trip to Europe, and based on the support and awards I had received, I decided to travel through Germany and the Czech Republic before beginning the ceramics program in Kecskemet, Hungary.

Europe's culture, geography, historical and contemporary architecture, museums and immense appreciation for the arts were key aspects of my research. The new visual and contextual stimulation, combined with concepts from my undergraduate exhibition work at Ohio University, would directly influence my studio work in Kecskemet.

Berlin was a great starting point.  I met there with Deborah Schwartzkopf, a 2007-08 visiting artist at Ohio University, who was in Berlin for a residency.

Deborah and I traveled to the 300-year-old Meissen Porcelain Factory in Meissen, Germany, that is still producing work today. The factory displays both historical and contemporary pieces.

From there we ventured to the Zwinger, a historical site and museum in Dresden, Germany, that houses classic objects, including paintings, armor, silver- and goldware, sculptures, royal jewels and treasures, and Meissen porcelain. It was a beautiful lesson in history.

Next, we traveled to Prague to study cathedrals and architecture. I am interested in the inclination to surround oneself with beautiful objects, and here, ornamental details covered even the most mundane, everyday objects. This inspired me to apply a quality of decoration and functionality to the work I was soon to create at the International Ceramics Studio in Hungary. 

In Bavaria, we toured King Ludwig's castles (Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau), climbed the Bavarian Alps and visited Munich. Berchtesgarten National Park in Bavaria was one of the most breathtaking places of my travels. On our hikes, the mountains towered above Deborah and me. Below, crystal clear lakes resided where glaciers once rested.

When I arrived in Kecskemet, I was given a studio and immediately set to work, guided by my prior concepts and new ideas from my travels in Europe. I began working on the potter's wheel, throwing bowl forms. For my main project, I decided to make a chandelier out of Herend porcelain, which is transparent when fired in a reduction (reduced oxygen) kiln. I constructed 12 small bowls that would hold candles in a circle around a large central bowl, with a total diameter of about 2¼ feet.

Through my International Ceramics Studio experience, I advanced my skills in working with gas and electric kilns as well as different materials such as Herend porcelain. It was challenging to create art in an unfamiliar facility, with new materials and in a different culture, but this residency prepared me for future work environments.

And as a dual major in ceramics and art education, the exposure to historic sites and different cultures will influence not only my own art production, but also my future lesson plans. One day, I can share this experience with my students by infusing these resources into an integrated curriculum.

After graduation, I plan to continue producing art, teach high school and possibly attend graduate school to study ceramics. This experience has opened doors and will set me apart from my competitors. It was made possible only through the support of Ohio University and my professors in ceramics -- Joe Bova, Alex Hibbitt, Boomer Moore and Brad Schwieger.


Updated Oct. 27, 2008, to include Overmann's hometown.


Related Links
See a photo slide show of Overmann's travels: http://www.ohio.edu/outlook/08-09/October/136s.cfm 
Undergraduate ceramics program: http://www.finearts.ohio.edu/art/programs/grad-mfa-ma/ceramics/  

Published: Oct 22, 2008 11:33 AM  

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