Arts, Upper School, Visual Arts

9th Grader is Latest NWS Student in National Ceramics Exhibition

By Carlos Pedraza


Aviva L-L.’s “Tri-Rainbow Trizzle” is one of only 150 student works in this prestigious exhibition, but she recalls it started out as the ugliest of three bowls in ceramics class.

Aviva L-L. (right) confers with Northwest ceramics teacher, Randy Silver, about her next piece.

"Tri-Rainbow Trizzle," by Northwest ninth-grade ceramics student, Aviva L-L.

AVIVA'S ARTWORK appeared this past week in a Sacramento, Calif., gallery as part of the K-12 Ceramic Exhibition — "nationals" for aspiring ceramics students — one of only 150 pieces of exquisite student-made ceramic art selected by a jury representing the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA). Thousands of viewers saw the exhibition on March 16-19.

"Tri-Rainbow Trizzle" was inspired by one of three bowls she had made in Randy Silver's ceramics class. "They were very ugly," she remembers. "I took the ugliest one, cut into it, then fired and glazed it. I hoped something interesting would come from it."

The result, Randy says, was "a colorful and organic vessel" — a standout that caught the eye of the NCECA jury. "And it's not even her best work," he adds.

Her more recent piece, a colorful ceramic rendering of one of the Northwest's threatened native salmon species, wasn't ready in time for submission for the ceramics nationals.

A Salmon's Tale

Aviva Salmon 1396Px

Aviva's piece, "Endangered Salmon," is almost life-size (photo by Randy Silver).

AVIVA'S SALMON started out as an "ovaloid-ish" lump, she remembers. Over the course of almost an entire trimester, "it kept getting bigger, but that's not how it ended up."

In the end, "Endangered Salmon" finally came together in something of a rush, with her shaping of the fins, then getting the body right before finishing with the tail.

What's Next?

While thousands of students submitted pieces for the national exhibition, Aviva's "Tri-Rainbow Trizzle" is one of the few destined to appear on posters, websites and CDs, and in a print catalog-magazine. She also becomes eligible for other awards, cash, prizes — including a potter's wheel — and scholarships.

"Being juried into this exhibition is a great honor," Randy says, "and Aviva deserves the accolades!"

Latest in a Long Line

Past Ceramics

Aviva is only the most recent of Randy's students to be selected for this elite national exhibition, with his students' work similarly honored in 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020 — an impressive accomplishment for one teacher given the highly competitive nature of the juried exhibition.

A sampling of pieces by Randy Silver's students whose artwork has also been selected by juries in prior national K-12 ceramics exhibitions.

ENDANGERED ANIMALS Like Aviva, Randy's past students created some of their finest work as part of his traditional class assignment — to create a ceramic rendering of an endangered species. Past Northwest student works included "Endangered Pangolin," "Endangered Giant Panda" and a piece depicting a Bornean orangutan.

Among the awards Northwest students have won in prior years at this exhibition were for Artistic Merit, Selected for Further Distinction and Honorable Mention.

The NCECA jury selects artwork based on superior craftsmanship, concept, creativity, authentic meaning and self-expression.

Northwest's ceramics teacher, Randy Silver, advises ninth grader Aviva L-L.

Fostering Independence

Randy's approach reflects The Northwest School's commitment to building students' character by helping them find their artistic voice as members of a global community.

"My goal is to foster my students' independence," as they move from sixth to 12th grade, he says. "In sixth grade, I help them through every step of the creative process; by 12th grade they're finding their own concepts, expressing themselves with clay. I support them to realize their vision."

Randy believes any young person can find the means for creative expression through clay.

"If they play with Play-Doh or Minecraft, they totally qualify for my class," he says.

And that goes for adults, too, who take advantage of Randy's offer to help fellow faculty deal with stress by working with clay.

Watch the trailer for the NCECA's Sacramento conference, where Aviva's artwork was featured in exhibition.