Art student spotlight: the value of an art education as told by Jericho Barkley

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, April 4th, 2018 at 4:52 PM

There is a pile of clay spinning on the wheel as Jericho Barkley, a third-year art education student, begins smoothing it into a stout pot. Barkley is specializing in ceramics for his Bachelor of Fine Arts and is also aiming to achieve a Bachelor of Science in art education. 

Barkley was always interested in art throughout high school, but did not realize it was something he wanted to pursue until he was already enrolled at a Penn State branch campus for general engineering. He stated that a sculpture professor he had at Penn State was very influential and Barkley soon realized what he really wanted to do.

“It’s weird, you go to a Penn State branch and see all these kids hustling about, doing stuff that they don’t really seem to enjoy. So I thought about it for a while and decided that hey, maybe I shouldn’t go to school just to make money for the rest of my life. I should enjoy what I do, and I’ve always enjoyed making art,” he said. 

Barkley was brought to Edinboro by both the affordability and reputation of the art programs. 

Ceramics was the first studio class he took, finding that he excelled in it quickly. 

“Also the art education degree [was a reason]. Not a lot of schools, especially where I’m from — near Pittsburgh — have that art education degree or a school of education as notable as Edinboro’s. It’s also a bit closer to home than where I was at.”

Barkley is studying to be a future art educator and shared that a major positive of creating is that it can be an activity to relieve stress as well as an interesting trade.

“There’s something that the arts offers that not any other major can offer. Everyone talks about the arts as something they can use to relieve stress or [use to] take a break from their other classes. People have made a living off of being artists forever, maybe even longer than people who have made a living off of being businessmen, because art is as old as time. I definitely think it has an importance that is being missed in today’s society,” explained Barkley.

He is a member of the university’s print and clay clubs. He also presented work in Print Club’s exhibit, titled “Print Bodies,” earlier this month. 

When asked what inspires his work, Barkley said: “Since a lot of the work I do is with functional pottery, it’s the relationship we share with artwork or what we define as an artwork.” His motivation behind the work is not only a development of a practical skill or trade, but also helps him to push himself to be the best artist he can be in as many forms as he can. 

“Especially because when I teach, I want to not only show the students my skill, but also help them better themselves. Understanding a topic is crucial to being able to teach it,” he explained. 

By the time Barkley looks up, the lump of clay that was thrown on the wheel has become a tall vase. Barkley dips his sponge in the bucket of slip and shapes the vessel into something with curves and a funneling top.

As for the way creating art makes Barkley feel, he answered, “excited.” 

Continuing, he explained: “Art, in general, has been one of the only things that really appeals to me because it is constantly changing. You could argue that engineering or business is constantly changing, but one thing that I love about art is that it’s always going in a different direction. From year to year, that potential for change is really awesome and keeps it from puttering out.”

Livia Homerski can be reached ae.spectator@gmail.com.

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