Students in Joy Cornish-Bowden’s Advanced Art and Design class worked on their first ceramic bust project, usually considered college-level work, thanks an idea seeded by Knize, who wanted to try his hand at leading the session.
Knize has created art professionally for years, with his work appearing in private collections in California, Europe and Japan. Locally, his art has earned awards in the annual Expressions art show, and his woodworking is featured in the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts’ co-op gallery.
Knize has been sculpting for more than 10 years and has taken classes, but recently has become more focused on clay modeling. So for his first teaching endeavor, he asked Cornish-Bowden about leading the art project, which had the students learn the basics of sculpting a clay bust — from design to firing.
“It was good for me professionally — it reinforces what you know,” Knize said.
For three weeks, students turned their clay into a recognizable form, as Knize led the step-by-step project. Knize said he chose the topic — a classic art project — because it instills skills the art students would use in all their projects.
“Students learn to improve segments of their work — most useful to students learning bone structure and muscles,” Knize said, explaining students can incorporate the skill of learning the contours of the face and skull to different art projects in painting and drawing.
Knize also built custom wooden tools for the students to shape, cut and mold the clay, as well as suggesting common household items such as forks.
Knize gave a first-person demonstration of the different techniques, sculpting Abraham Lincoln alongside the students, who had the option of giving their works a unique personality after achieving the correct shape and size.
One bust featured a Mohawk, while another wore a hat.
Students spent this morning on the final touches. The busts were then cut open and the clay hollowed out as they were readied for firing in a school kiln.
When done, the busts will be part of an art show at West High’s gallery early next year.