Junior Kyle Reyes, senior Catherine Liang express creativity through ceramics

On Google Images, the first results that appear when searching “ceramics” are simple bowls, vases and mugs. However, high school ceramics is more than creating functional household items. Junior Kyle Reyes and senior Catherine Liang push the bounds of creativity through this versatile medium.

Reyes first began creating ceramics his freshman year, when he discovered how much he enjoyed making physical and three-dimensional products. “I got into ceramics because I really like to create things,” he said. “I like hands-on learning, so it was fun to use my hands to make something and mix my physical skills with my creative mental skills.”

The three-dimensional aspect of ceramics adds another layer of creativity to creating pieces. “With ceramics, you really get a feel for what you’re making with the clay,” Reyes said. “When you’re throwing something on the wheel, it heightens your sense of touch because you have to be able to feel whether something is too thin or thick.”

Liang also became a ceramics student her freshman year. Over the years, she has developed both technically and artistically. “I’m really proud of my growth,” she said. “I’ve gotten more comfortable with the creative process. I can imagine, plan and execute an idea. In AP Art Studio, the AP requirements force me to think about what I’m trying to do with each of my pieces. Everything I do is super intentional, and I think that’s really helped me develop my creative process.”

For Liang, ceramics are an outlet of self-expression. “I’m really into using my sculptures as a way to express emotions that are sometimes hard to put into other art forms,” she said. “I like creating body parts like hands or facial expressions. Being able to create texture with my sculptures is also really powerful.”

According to Liang, the type of clay also influences the meaning of the piece. “Clay is very expressive,” she said. “There are different degrees of firmness and different types of clay with different personalities. Some are more elastic, and some are more gritty.”

Sometimes, the personality of the clay—and the process itself—results in an unexpected product. “My favorite thing is seeing what the glaze looks like after it’s been fired in the kiln,” Reyes said. “It’s always a surprise with glaze, because it’s really unpredictable in the kiln. Depending on where your piece is in the kiln—if it’s close to the vent or if it’s in the center—it will look different. It’s unpredictable, which makes it fun.”

For people who are interested in pursuing ceramics, Reyes notes that getting used to the art form can take time. “Be patient with it,” he said. “It is unpredictable, but it’s all about patience.”

Creativity is the most important aspect when it comes to ceramics. “Have an open mind,” Liang said. “Art is subjective and up to interpretation. There are so many different ways that you can express different things. I think keeping an open mind to what you can create is really important. There is so much room to be creative and have fun.”