Decorating Ancient Pottery at the Oriental Institute

Calling all adults with a child like wonderment for the simple pleasure of painting and drawing. For on Sunday December 4th, the Oriental Institute featured a workshop of  painting ancient Egyptian pottery. Beginning with a specialized tour of the gallery spaces by Emily Teeter, a curator at the institute and then following the tour, a painting project featuring Aurora Tabar, a teaching artist from the Hyde Park Art Center. The workshop was from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at a cost of $40 for members and $45 for non-members.

Artists and non-artists alike attended this event. I love art, but painting will never be my day job, although many others at the workshop could have been ancient pottery sculptors and painters. Ms. Teeter had the group journey through the ancient Egyptian pottery beginning with the simple ochre colored pots and eventually traveling to more geometric designs from the Near East.

The Egyptian pottery told stories of travel, death, and animals. Animal skins, flamingos, and death boats were inspirations of my pottery and the Egyptians of course. Ms. Teeter even pointed out a vase where it had cracked during the time of use many thousands of years ago and fixed by the owner. Her commentary was especially helpful in rendering  my own pottery and others in the group. Through Ms. Teeter’s words and the images created in my own mind, I fully understood the ancient way of life and the importance of ancient pottery. Ms. Teeter was an excellent guide in the introduction of ancient pottery and it was a unique pleasure to listen to her knowledge of the subject.

After all the information and images floating in my mind, I took my pencil to pot and began to draw the story brewing. Ms. Tabar, our teaching artist was an excellent source of color mixing and a sound board for our ideas in creating our designs for the pottery. The group was able to paint two pots, one in the artistic designs of ancient Egypt and possibly a more modern take on our own lives. I certainly enjoyed creating the ancient Egyptian designs, but my pot of the modern age appeared more of a Jackson Pollock than anything else.

The painting, guided tour, and the friendly and knowledgeable attitudes of Ms. Teeter and Ms. Tabar were the highlight of a chilly afternoon in early December. There was talk of an upcoming mosaic class. Chicago Museum Blog will surely attend again and be even more impressed the next time around!



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