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Face Vessels


Face Vessels - CMS Art Grant
CMS artists, from left, CJ Vincent, Harley Eakins, and Javier Soto are ready to fire their face vessels in the new Skutt automatic kiln.
Clinton Middle School art instructor Joy Badillo received a $2650 grant from the Clinton Public School Foundation this past spring to fund her project “Face Vessels: Original African American Folk Art.” The money was used to purchase a new kiln for CMS.

The Face Vessels project covers all four Oklahoma P.A.S.S. standards for Grades 7 and 8 Visual Art – Language of Visual Art, Visual Art History and Culture, Visual Art Expression, and Visual Art Appreciation.

In addition to covering all four P.A.S.S. standards, according to Mrs. Badillo, “clay is a strong, expressive medium and is ideal for enhancing students’ development and holistic learning.” Working with clay improves dexterity in both small and large muscles, and promotes mathematical and spatial thinking.

Brandon Izaguirre rolling a slab.
Michaela Correa is attaching the coils to her vessel before smoothing it out and adding the face.
Face vessels, as crafted by American slaves, were supposed to be so ugly they would scare even the devil away. Here's William Steffes with his effort ready for the new kiln.
“Some students find working with clay particularly soothing and it can be useful for releasing tension or frustration. In addition, ceramics get students in touch with nature, feeling the earth,” Mrs. Badillo reports. “Imaginations are stimulated, and it’s a very social activity, with students helping each other with ideas or suggestions. Another important aspect is the way this medium enables students to produce lasting pieces, which promotes a sense of purpose, pride, and self-esteem.” 

For the Face Vessels project, students begin by learning about their history, which involved artisan slaves between 1810 and 1865 creating jugs and pots often modeled in the shape of human faces. These “face vessels” have been found along the routes of the Underground Railroad and on gravesites, indicating how highly they were valued and how closely connected they were with the enslaved African American’s culture. After researching face vessels, students then design and create their own vessel with earthenware clay, which is then bisque-fired, glazed, and then fired once more for a shiny finish.

“My students and I are so very thankful for the Foundation’s generous grant to our art department! CMS art students will be able to explore the clay medium for many years to come.”
  • Kelsey at the art show with her ribbon!
  • Allison and Jackson with their work at the art show.
  • Mitchell
  • Ally
  • Jacob's vessel.
  • Baylee
  • Gaby's
  • Carly
  • Karisten
  • Cannon
  • Allison
  • McKinley
  • Conley
  • Shelby
  • Elijah, Luis, and Brends
  • Tasha's comparing her sketch to the work in progress.
  • Brenda's adding her braided handle.
  • Bodhi's getting ready to add the dredlocks!
  • Elizabeth adding glaze to her rooster vessel.
  • Josue, Hunter, and Mitchell adding glaze.
  • Nautica preparing to add glaze.
  • Carleigh joining her coils together.

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