New Ceramics Professor Meghan Sullivan

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This fall, Pacific University’s Art and Design department welcomes Visiting Assistant Professor of ceramics Meghan Sullivan. Her ceramics sculpture collection What Remains is currently displayed in the Kathrin Cawein Gallery of Art in Scott Hall. The Pacific Index caught up with Sullivan to talk about her work and hopes for the year teaching at Pacific University.

The Pacific Index: Where are you from? 

Meghan Sullivan: Originally, I am from Boston, Massachusetts, but I am moving here from Wisconsin. That’s where I was teaching.

The Index: What brought you to Pacific University?

MA: The job. I looked up Pacific, and I had seen that they were hiring. I’d always wanted to live out in this area, and I like liberal arts colleges, so it just kinda all fit.

The Index: What is your previous pottery experience?

MA: I got my bachelors in ceramics, and then I have my masters in ceramics, and I’ve been doing ceramics for about 22 years professionally.

The Index: What are you hoping to achieve as a professor at Pacific?

MA: I’m really excited to see what students are interested in here. The civic engagement and sustainability part intrigues me–and how to incorporate that with ceramics. I’m just excited to explore the culture of the area and the different student perspectives, coming from just a completely different area of the country.

The Index: What do you hope students will learn from your class?

MA: Well, I hope that they learn how to make stuff. I hope they learn to think about the aesthetics of the objects we use daily. I hope that they feel confident in being able to do work. And I hope they learn something about ceramic history and ceramic classicists.

The Index: What art piece you’ve made that you’re the proudest of?

MA: Well, when you do your master’s degree, you have a thesis show, and I have work from when I had the thesis show. I have a piece of these two figures that are seated, and it’s one of the only pieces that I’ve kept in the collection of my own work that I still have. It’s old now, but I’m pretty proud of that, and it’s a piece that has led to other work and changed how I think about it. So while it’s not the best piece in the world, I’m really happy to still have it.

The Index: What do you like to do outside of work/being a professor?

MA: Oh well, I have a dog! So I like taking her on walks and exploring the area. I’m learning about hiking and places that have mountains and hills, so that’s cool! And I’ve been to the coast. I really like the coast. I like to cook. Most of it right now is just settling in and figuring out where things are.

What do you draw inspiration from for your pottery?

MA: I mostly do figurative sculpture. I look a lot at Greek and Roman sculptures for my own work. I like to look at how people interact with each other. I have started looking more at things like landscape, and so some of the stuff that I think will start coming into my work is the landscape or the flora of Oregon. . . With the pottery I make, I like to be very utilitarian, so it’s not super fancy, but it will last, and people will get joy out of using it.

The Index: Can you tell me about your collection What Remains?

MA: That work is primarily figurative work. I made a lot of it during a residency in Montana, but it’s riffing on classical Roman and Greek art. Some pieces were made during the pandemic like there’s one a big bouquet and that’s talking about like funerals, so it’s less about the classical. . .  [What] I was thinking about with that work is questioning who gets monuments, who is remembered. Even if somebody makes a statue of you, 500 years from now, your name might not be remembered, especially in the Greek and Roman times. So many people–emperors and empresses had statues made, and they’d be destroyed after their reign was over. So I like to make pieces that I consider to have a false history. Usually, the faces look something like my face, but I give them fake names, and people like to make up a narrative. So you don’t know what you can believe or trust.

The Index: Do you have anything else to share with Pacific students?

MA: They should all take a ceramics class. I’m excited for this year and to see what happens!

— Annie Berry

Annie Berry
Social Media and Cover Designer

Major: Graphic Design and Art

Hometown: Albany, Oregon

Hobbies: XC, track, drawing, photography, baking cakes, hiking, backpacking

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