Dylan Eakin's talent for creating ceramic art has taken him from Ozarks to an elite summer program on the California coast.
The senior art major from Clarksville spent July 2-11 at an intensive summer workshop called the Ceramics Arts Program, hosted by California State University Long Beach (CSLUB). Eakin was one of 22 students chosen out of more than 70 applicants to participate in the prestigious program.
Every other summer for the past five years, CSLUB has hosted a program where prominent artists in the ceramics field come to work alongside program students for almost two weeks of intensive art creation and mentoring, community building, and idea exchange. As the program’s web site put it, "Our goal is to bring together a group of highly committed and motivated students of the ceramic arts for an experience that truly defines the words ‘work intensive.’ "
Ozarks senior Dylan Eakin shows one of the ceramic pieces he created while at the Ceramics Art Program workshop.
This summer’s focus and artistic theme was Figuration. "Dawn Holder, our ceramics professor, encouraged me to apply," said Eakin. "It seemed like a dream opportunity. They invited nine celebrity-status professional artists to come mentor us, including people like Tip Toland, Cristina Cordova, and Beth Cavener Stichter. Each morning from 10 till noon, we attended a presentation where a different artist would demonstrate his or her craft. They were all unique and interesting in their own ways."
Holder advocates strongly for programs like the one Eakin attended. "Participating in classes and workshops outside the university setting is an important part of starting an art career," she said. "Art making is a multi-faceted practice with many valid answers and approaches. Workshops allow students to expand their horizons quickly by improving technical skills and gaining exposure to new ways of thinking and working. The intensive setting of summer workshops provides a focused and exhilarating environment lead by talented teachers and populated by enthusiastic peers. Additionally, the savvy student will use this experience to begin building their network of connections, which can lead to exciting post-graduate opportunities, such as shows, internships, studio assistantships, mentorships, teaching positions, and graduate programs. Whenever I see a workshop or program that might benefit a student, I always do whatever I can to encourage them to apply."
Eakin said in the evenings the artist of the day would give two-hour lectures explaining their work. And between morning and night, the days were spent with 20 to 30 students and professionals working on their ceramics in close quarters. "I’ve worked right next to the hyperrealist Tip Toland all week," Eakin said. "She gave me some wonderful advice. And, at the end of each day, they would cook us fantastic international cuisine for dinner. They treated us pretty well."
Eakin again praised the help he received from Holder, an assistant professor of art at Ozarks. "I know that I wouldn’t be prepared for this program if Professor Holder had not pushed me and my craft when I was first discovering a skill in ceramics," Eakin said. "The faculty at Ozarks really helped me hold my own in California."
He said he has walked away from the experience having "really gained the motivation to pursue larger, more complete, and more realistic figures. It’s just been an endless well of praise and support in Long Beach. I mostly worked on sculpting the human face and shoulders during the program. The majority of the benefits of the trip came from sheer exposure to the wonderful, professional talents who were there. I gained enough confidence to approach the full figure when I return to ceramics in the fall. More than anything, this program has given me the confidence to believe that if I work my rear end off I could actually be a professional artist."
Eakin’s friend, U of O senior and English and art major Rikki Runyon, was less modest about Eakin’s accomplishments. "It’s a fairly prestigious program, and he is impressing the socks off of most everyone there," she said. "I’m thrilled that our art department is being represented so well. People assume that Dylan’s a professional and have been asking him where he teaches."
Eakin said his plans upon graduation are to pursue a career in ceramics art full-throttle. "I hope to apply for a residency at the Archie Bray foundation," he said, "and try my luck with Alfred University to pursue my master’s degree. But to have a chance with any of that, I’m really going to have to kick it in gear for this last year of Ozarks."