Students at Chopticon High School celebrated Black History Month by creating sculptures and posters, giving them an opportunity to delve into African American history and culture.
The juniors of the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, or AVPA, taking AP art history designed a poster with information about black artists. And the sophomore class created face jugs or “ugly jugs,” making sculpted pottery like African Americans used in the 1800s.
“They were historically ugly because part of it is used to ward off spirits,” Aspen Jorgenson, a sophomore, said.
Terry Mumau, Chopticon’s art teacher overseeing the projects, said the jugs were based on nkisi nkondi, a doll that served similar purposes.
Sophomore Camdyn Woodburn said the jug-making process involved coiling, a ceramic method to shape clay. She said they molded the clay to look like a “long snake” before attaching the snake-like clay on top of one another to form the shape desired. The jug is later waxed at the bottom, then dipped in glaze.
“It doesn’t have to be perfect, because they’re ugly jugs,” she said.
Designing the face was the next step, and it was by far everyone’s favorite part.
Woodburn’s jug had a dark brown top and blueish bottom. Its most distinguished features are the nose and teeth. “My mom and I joke about buck teeth,” she said, adding that half her family has buck teeth.
Mumau said their techniques and tools, like using a potter’s wheel, is unique compared to other programs. He said he tried this project with a class three years ago but it was not successful. “This group is a little more skilled and focused,” he said.
He also called his students resilient since some of them had to restart when a few jugs dried up during the week they were off for winter break.
Jorgenson said she was sick for another three or four days but was able to catch back up to create a jug with horns and a bull nose ring.
Missy Meador, fellow AVPA…