UK dean to lecture on ceramics

By Ali Cicerchi

One UK dean knows there is more to art than paint on a canvas.

Robert Shay, ceramic artist and dean of the College of Fine Arts, will be speaking today as part of the [email protected] lecture series sponsored by the UK Art Museum.

The series, which runs on the first Wednesday of every month, features guest lecturers to discuss current exhibits or permanent collections of the museum.

The lecture series takes an in-depth look at particular pieces of art, said Deborah Borrowdale-Cox, the director of education at the museum.

Shay, who has been a dean at UK for the past 10 years, received his undergraduate degree from New York University and a graduate degree from the University of Wisconsin.

“Most deans have a degree coming out of performance arts,” Shay said. “There aren’t too many of us with studio art degrees.”

While Shay was unsure of what he will lecture on, he said he might talk about his own work that is on display at the UK Art Museum.

Shay has two large platter pieces in the museum, and said these pieces are very much focused on the medium of clay and its physical properties.

As part of making ceramic pieces, clay needs to be fired. Shay said this is the most important part to him because it gives the pieces character.

“Most people think of it as a necessary evil, but for me it’s about celebrating what it can do with the clay,” Shay said. “I like that the scars of the fire are evident.”

Before becoming dean, Shay worked at Ohio State University as a faculty member of the art department for about 25 years, and he eventually became chair of the art department.

“It probably surprised a lot of people that I was good at (being chair),” Shay said.

After OSU, Shay took a job as the dean at the Herron School of Art and Design at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

Before becoming dean at UK, Shay said he took a short hiatus from his art. Now, he said, he is back to doing things he loves, which includes working in ceramics, but also riding horses.

The [email protected] lecture will begin today at noon in the art museum gallery and is free and open to the public. Additional information on the Art Museum’s Web site (