Local magistrate helps shape ceramics and WCU student

Western Carolina University Graduate student and potter Frank Vickery has taken an unorthodox approach in the selection of his Master of Fine Arts degree Thesis Committee. Vickery has selected a thesis committee that consists of Richard Tictich, director of the school of art and design; Dr. Seth McCormick, art history assistant professor in the school of art and design; and Dr. Patrick Taylor , emeritus professor of art, Kennesaw State University.

Taylor is also a magistrate judge in the 30th Judicial District of North Carolina and has a longstanding relationship with both Tictich and Vickery. Taylor and Vickery first met at The Bascom Center for the Visual Arts in Highlands, N.C. During construction of The Bascom, Taylor served as the Chair of the Facilities Committee, and he later served as the Owners Representative for the construction of the new Bascom Visual Arts Center.

During that time, Taylor envisioned a program that would provide for a potter-in-residence at the Bascom, where the potter could simultaneously teach aspiring students, work to develop a personal style and collaborate with colleagues to advance the ceramic arts. After meeting Vickery in the art department at WCU, Taylor persuaded him to pursue work at the Bascom in the potter in residence program.

Taylor said that though Vickery was skilled in the physical creation of his pottery, there was room for improvement in his glazing techniques, and that desire to learn and improve his work drove the theme of Vickery’s thesis.

“You hope that during the thesis, the student contributes to the body of knowledge (of the studied subject matter)” said Taylor. He stated that as a result of Vickery’s thorough research and experimentation, Vickery developed new processes that ceramic artists will undoubtedly find interesting and useful.

“We (the committee) have encouraged Frank to take some of the techniques that he has developed and publish articles about them,” Taylor continued. He believes that other artists can benefit from what Vickery has learned and discovered through his thesis research.

Professor Richard Tictich, director of the School of Art and Design, said that the MFA program Vickery works in is a combination of art history, applied studio time, and theory and criticism.

“Thesis committees are mentors to students over the course of several years” said Tictich. He explained that the MFA degree is unique in the fact that it is considered a terminal degree in the field of studio arts.

Taylor relishes the break he gets from his legal decision-making process as a magistrate as a member of Vickery’s thesis committee, and said that being a member of the committee has been an honor.

Vickery’s thesis, titled “A Potter’s Oil-Spot Marx,” intends to “develop a body of knowledge about cone six oil-spot glazes using midrange firing temperatures in an electric kiln.”

Vickery’s thesis exhibition will take place at the Bascom from March 24-May 10, with an opening reception Saturday, March 24 from 5-7 p.m. The Bascom is located at 323 Franklin Road in Highlands, N.C., 28741. More information about the Bascom may be obtained by calling 828-526-4949.