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Connie Norman

AccessCeramics.org

This news article just got emailed to me by Ted Vogel about AccessCeramics.org.  I am really happy to be a part of this amazing website.  It is a remarkable teaching tool.   Thanks, Ted for inviting me!!

Innovative project fuses technology, education, and the arts

An innovative project developed by a team of Lewis & Clark faculty and staff members has quickly become a vital resource for the arts and education communities.

AccessCeramics is a robust online collection of contemporary ceramics images that has become a highly effective educational tool and an influential model for increasing access to both art and education.

Launched in March 2008, accessCeramics is the only major, free ceramics database online. Watzek Library staff members collaborate with Assistant Professor of Art Ted Vogel to support the project’s technological, artistic, and educational dimensions.

“It’s really the first and only well-organized image database focused on ceramics,” said Richard Burkett, associate professor of art at San Diego State University. “AccessCeramics has the potential to be a rich resource for both aesthetic and historical research in the ceramics field worldwide.”

In the short time since its inception, accessCeramics has grown tremendously and has caught the attention of artists, scholars, and experts in instructional media services. The originality of the project and its educational mission have earned it grant support from prominent foundations such as the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

“The NEA grant we received is focused on increasing access to the arts in communities throughout the country,” said Mark Dahl, associate director for digital initiatives and collection management. “That mission is a great fit for accessCeramics and specifically our goal of making images of high-quality contemporary ceramic art widely available to the arts education community.”

Understanding the collection, inside and out

With nearly 3,000 images and artist-contributors from around the world, accessCeramics merges the arts and digital technology in a unique and intuitive way. Though other licensed databases exist for art historians, no other service or website offers open access to a comparable range of images of contemporary arts, particularly ceramics.

“We’re really the only ones doing this right now,” Vogel said. “And things behind pay-walls aren’t used as frequently as openly accessible databases.”

Housed in Flickr, the foremost online photo-sharing application, accessCeramics is free and user-friendly for contributors and viewers.

One key to the project’s success has been its streamlined, web-based submission process. The accessCeramics curatorial board recruits artists for inclusion in the collection, but much of the submission process is completed independently: artists use a customized website to upload and catalog their own images using prescribed metadata fields. The images are stored on Flickr and displayed through the accessCeramics website, where the collection is fully searchable by any of the descriptions artists provide when uploading the images.

“You could look at it and not know it’s a Flickr site,” said Vogel, program head in ceramics. “It’s simple, clean, and easy to navigate. AccessCeramics makes my life easier, and I’m sure that’s true for other teachers and students. If you want to look for cups or only figurative work, you can do that.”

The efficiency of the accessCeramics model has allowed the project team to focus its time and resources on expanding the collection, managing the website, and providing technical support to contributing artists.

“We’ve been really surprised at the attention the project has generated,” said Margo Ballantyne, recently retired visual resources curator. “People get a whiff of the idea and the logistics of accessCeramics and they are all over us with questions and inquiries.”

Gauging the accessCeramics global impact

When the accessCeramics group members think about how to gauge the site’s impact, they can point to a few concrete numbers, like the 100 unique visitors a day to accessCeramics.org, or its top-ten placement in a Google search for contemporary ceramics. Members of the team have been invited to present at multiple professional conferences around the country. The group has twice published articles about their work, and the project has received two major grants.

Harder to calculate—but much more significant—is the project’s profound impact on academic and artistic communities.

The accessCeramics team has heard from ceramics educators at many colleges and universities, who have called the collection an invaluable resource in their field.

“This project has had a broad-based impact,” Dahl said. “We’ve seen that this resource really advances art education at liberal arts colleges around the country. Educators and art communities can tap into it, as well as curators and other artists.”

AccessCeramics fans have written in from as far away as New Zealand and Australia. Vogel recently received an email from an art student at Alfred University, home to one of the largest ceramics programs in the country, saying that accessCeramics is frequently used in classes there.

To read the rest of the article click here.

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5 Responses to “AccessCeramics.org”

  1. kris Says:

    congratulations, connie!!
    a well-deserved honor.

  2. Tamara B Lee Little Says:

    Hey Connie,
    I want to congratulate you on the article. Your work is awesome and I’m sure there will be many
    more.

  3. Connie Says:

    Thanks Tamara
    I hope so….. It was really a nice surprise to be on the cover. It really made my day.

  4. Connie Says:

    Thanks Kris. You’re my biggest fan. You’re the best.

  5. Connie Says:

    Thank you. The RSS feed button is under the pages tab on the right hand side. Hit the subscribe button and and then hit the RSS feed button and it will take you to a page to hit subscribe. Thanks for stopping by the blog.