When you think of art, what comes to your mind? Normal answers include anything from traditional paintings to the MET museum and everything in between. But how many of you thought of ceramics? Though ceramics is an art-form that tends to go unnoticed, it is an incredibly valuable and essential craft. Think of all the bowls you have eaten cereal with, the vases that hold your flowers or the eclectic decorations that fill your home space. None of those would exist without pottery; and while many of us ignore the prevalence of pottery, Annika Conlee (’22) has long been aware of its impacts.

“In middle school, I used to baby sit for a potter. This sparked my interest in ceramics,” Annika said. She later proposed a deal: babysitting in exchange for pottery lessons. Later in high school she took a ceramics class, which confirmed her passion for the art-form. Interestingly, however, art — though being one of the main reasons Annika chose to attend Furman — was not what she intended to major in as a Freshman.

“I originally wanted to be an English and Education major,” she noted, “but I couldn’t help myself from becoming an Art major and pursuing ceramics in a more serious manner.” As an Art History major, Annika has dived even deeper into the complexities of pottery and the world of art, combining her academic pursuit with her creative passion. And that’s just it: Annika didn’t want to go after just any generic major – she wanted to pursue her true passion. Ceramics is not a traditional artistic field of study, but still deserves attention and acclamation. For many, it is a life form, and it is through ceramics that many find their emotions and talents take tangible form.

For Annika, the past four years at Furman have been full of opportunities to grow her intellectual knowledge about her artistic abilities. She talked about how Professor Chance and Professor Kao have had a major impact on her journey here. She noted that both professors had been “very impactful on [her] work and ceramic knowledge base,” and since coming to Furman she has seen her work grow and develop under their tutelage.  

Outside of Furman, Annika works for a Greenville-based potter, Darin Gehrke. This has given her the opportunity to “see behind the scenes of the ceramic world outside of an academic setting.” Her pottery Instagram account, @arc_ceramic_shop, features various plates, pots, bowls, mugs and more, all beautifully hand-crafted on campus. If you are interested in checking out Annika’s works and/or purchase her pottery, I encourage you to look up her Instagram account and be on the lookout for her upcoming website next semester!

If you are curious about a career in the Art field but do not know where to start, reach out to Furman’s Art department to learn more about this exciting, creative field of study.