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Art & Art History

University of Mississippi

Q&A with BFA Ceramics student Rosa Salas

Introduce yourself. Where are you from?
My name is Rosa Salas and I’m from Venezuela born and raised. I’m a Ceramics BFA student here at Ole Miss and I’ll be graduating in May of this year (2020).

What attracted you to the University of Mississippi?
Initially I wanted to leave home and I started to ask around about colleges. One of my friends literally came here a year before I did and she really liked it. She talked about it a lot so I decided to apply here and other colleges. Ole Miss offered a better scholarship, plus I already had someone I knew attending here. So, I felt better about coming here.

What made you pick the area of concentration you’re currently studying?
Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about doing anything else, other than graduating with my BA. I realized I enjoyed ceramics and it took the advanced class a couple times before I applied to the BFA program.

What type of artist do you consider yourself?
I think I’m more of an abstract, expressionistic, and eccentric type of artist.

Have you attended any conferences with your student organization?
I’ve been to two NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) conferences. The first one I attended was in Pittsburgh, PA in 2018 and the second one was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota last year. I really like the atmosphere of the ceramics community and everyone is very encouraging. That was also a deciding factor to apply for the BFA.

What artists or type of art inspires you?
I would say everyone in this studio, past and present, has influenced me greatly. I enjoy looking at history: I love Japanese prints, Mayan ceramics, Ancient Hindu architecture. I look up to artists in different mediums such as Elizabeth Murray. There are so many ceramic artists I can’t even begin to name them all. Chandra DeDuse, Betty Woodman and Cheyenne Rudolph are really awesome. I look up to a lot of female artists.

Which professors mentored/inspired you the most?
Matt Long is my area head and he is constantly giving me feedback. Outside of ceramics it would have to be Philip Jackson and Kris Belden-Adams. I really enjoyed painting with Jackson. I learned a lot about color and he introduced me to painters like Elizabeth Murray. She has really influenced my work lately.

What was your favorite class(s)?
I really liked Plein Air with Jackson over the summer and Art Now with Kris Belden-Adams.

What is your process for creating a piece in ceramics?
It’s changed a lot over the years. For my thesis, I’ve been sketching the pieces I want to make days before I start building. My thought process is picking a certain food or drink and focusing on creating a specific set for it. My last set was a cocoa set for hot chocolate. What do you need when you are going to make hot chocolate? You need your cocoa powder, marshmallows, cups, and a pouring vessel. Then I think about the presentation, composition, and how the way in which each piece looks and feels could enhance the experience of sharing a meal and drink with others.

How many sets are you making for your thesis?
Right now, I have three that are almost done. They need to be glazed and fired. I’m in the process of making a sushi set and I’m currently sketching out a sake set. So right now, I’m looking at five sets. Depending on the size of each set and how they look next to each other, I might include smaller sets on the show.

Could you describe any good experiences here in the department?
There are so many! I can’t choose one! I really like our receptions. It’s nice to be with your friends and see classmates who have recently graduated. We all gather around, look at art, and eat good food! Our reception for Plein Air was really fun, they had wine and cheese! It’s the little moments with all the other people in the building that make Meek Hall a special place to me.

What does the Department of Art & Art History mean to you?
I came here when I was nineteen and now I’m twenty-three, it’s been all of my young adult life. I’ve definitely grown a lot and I’ve learned everything I know about art from this department. I came in with no background in art other than the appreciation for it.

What are your plans after graduation?
I’m going to be teaching Spanish in Mississippi. I’ll be in the Mississippi Teacher Corps program here at the University of Mississippi. I’ll be working on my masters while I’m teaching. I plan on making art at the same time! I am in the process of getting stuff ready for this transition into a home studio.

Is there any advice you would like to give to incoming art students?
I wouldn’t put unnecessary pressure into creating perfect artwork. I think it’s easy for artists to expect too much of ourselves at times that our skills are not on par with what we expect our work to be. I think art making is a journey with ups and downs: even for the best artists there is struggle and doubt. There are times when we make really ugly stuff, but we must learn from experience and reflection. Make sure to put time in all your other classes and don’t take them for granted. You’ll make great friends in your classes and learn other design elements that will help you in your area of emphasis.

Can we find you/your work on social media?
I post pictures of my work on my Instagram @rosasalasg

What are you listening to right now?
Rihanna. She’s my number one, forever.

Are you binge watching anything at the moment?
I just finished BoJack Horseman, but before I was watching Atlanta.

What is your favorite Oxford spot to hang out?
The Blind Pig is one of my favorite ones. Especially when they have Trivia Night and french fries.

What’s your go-to restaurant in Oxford?
Taco Shop, always.

What is your favorite time of year in Oxford?
Summer, because I love the weather and there is nobody in town. I feel like it’s my city. There are no lines for food and you can go to the pool when it’s not crowded.

Are you going to be participating in Double Decker this year?
Yes, of course! See you at Double Decker!

Interviewer: Frank Estrada | Photographer: Olivia Whittington