The new ceramic teacher Meghan Sullivan – The Pacific Index


This fall, the University of the Pacific Department of Art and Design welcomes Visiting Assistant Professor of Ceramics Meghan Sullivan. His collection of ceramic sculptures What’s left is currently on display at the Kathrin Cawein Gallery of Art at Scott Hall. The Pacific Index caught up with Sullivan to talk about her work and her hopes for the year teaching at the University of the Pacific.

The Pacific Index: Where do you come from?

Meghan Sullivan: Originally, I’m from Boston, MA, but I’m from Wisconsin. That’s where I was teaching.

The index: What brought you to the University of the Pacific?

MA: Work. I looked at Pacific, and I saw they were hiring. I’ve always wanted to live in this neighborhood, and I like liberal arts schools, so that kinda suits me.

The index: What is your previous pottery experience?

MA: I got my bachelor’s degree in ceramics, then I got my master’s degree in ceramics, and I’ve been doing ceramics for about 22 years professionally.

The index: What do you hope to accomplish as a teacher at Pacific?

MA: I’m really looking forward to seeing what interests students here. The civic engagement and sustainability part intrigues me – and how to integrate it into ceramics. I’m just excited to explore the culture of the region and the different perspectives of the students, coming from a completely different part of the country.

The index: What do you hope students will learn from your class?

MA: Well, I hope they learn to do stuff. I hope they will learn to think about the aesthetics of the objects we use every day. I hope they feel confident to be able to work. And I hope they will learn something about the history of ceramics and the classics of ceramics.

The index: What work of art have you created that you are most proud of?

MA: Well, when you do your masters, you have a thesis show, and I have work from when I got the thesis show. I have a piece of these two figures that are seated, and it’s one of the only pieces that I have in my collection of my own work that I have left. It’s old now, but I’m pretty proud of it, and it’s a piece that led to other work and changed the way I think about it. So even if it’s not the best piece in the world, I’m really happy to still have it.

The index: What do you enjoy doing outside of work/being a teacher?

MA: Well, I have a dog! So I like to take him for walks and explore the area. I’m learning to hike and places that have mountains and hills, so that’s cool! And I’ve been to the coast. I really like the coast. I like cooking. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of settling in and figuring out where things stand.

What is your inspiration for your pottery?

MA: I mainly do figurative sculpture. I look at Greek and Roman sculptures a lot for my own work. I love watching how people interact with each other. I started to get more into things like the landscape, and so some of the things that I think will start to come into my work are the landscape or the flora of Oregon. . . With the pottery that I make, I like to be very utilitarian, so it’s not super fancy, but it will last, and people will enjoy using it.

The index: Can you tell me about your collection What’s left?

MA: This work is above all a figurative work. I did a lot of it during a residency in Montana, but it’s inspired by classical Roman and Greek art. Some pieces were made during the pandemic like there’s a big bouquet and it’s talking like a funeral, so it’s less classic. . . [What] I thought with this work it was about who gets monuments, which are remembered. Even if someone makes a statue of you, in 500 years your name might not be remembered, especially in Greek and Roman times. So many people – emperors and empresses had statues made, and they would be destroyed after their reign ended. So I like to make pieces that I consider to have a fake story. Usually the faces look like my face, but I give them fake names, and people like to make up a story. So you don’t know what to believe or trust.

The index: Do you have anything else to share with Pacific students?

MA: They should all take a ceramics course. I’m excited for this year and to see what happens!


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