CNDLS has been collaborating with ceramic artist Joan Lederman, and will be bringing her and her art to the Georgetown University campus. CNDLS will feature Lederman’s work at the Spagnuolo Gallery in Walsh beginning in January. During this exhibit, Lederman will meet with CNDLS staff, university faculty, and students to talk about her work and how it informs education.
Through the conception and presentation of her art, Lederman’s work integrates art, science, history, and technology. As a result, her work not only embodies many concepts at the center of CNDLS’ philosophy but also presents an opportunity for CNDLS to explore ideas about teaching and learning.
To create her ceramic art, Lederman uses ocean floor sediments brought to her by scientific researchers from places all over the world. After she molds this mud, she fires it in a natural gas-fired kiln.
The aesthetic result of her work holds valuable scientific meaning. To make sense of how her art functions scientifically, Lederman uses maps, graphs, and tables to record her findings. As a result, she has been able to make clear connections between aesthetic patterns and the sediments used.
Lederman supports an open-minded approach to art through her creative conjoining of the often separated spheres of art and science. The mud that she uses brings with it stories of time and place, and the way that these stories manifest visually remain unknown until after the mud has been fired in the kiln.
To deal with this uncertainty, Lederman uses a trial and error method. However, Lederman notes that when the trial produces an erroneous result (or when the result does not coincide with the expected result), there is still value in it. By recognizing that unexpected results are still productive, she replaces disappointment with the excitement that comes with learning opportunities.
CNDLS sees Lederman’s work as invaluable to teaching and learning concepts. As physical objects, the pieces represent theories of integrative learning. They show how art functions as a science and how science can benefit from art. As an artist, Lederman encourages an optimistic attitude towards learning. She reminds us to appreciate chaos and to find beauty in unexpected places.
To learn more about Joan Lederman and her work, visit her site The Soft Earth.