When you walk into Ms. Priscilla Hollingsworth’s studio, there’s an overwhelming sense of calmness. Classical music purrs from a small radio, and dozens of sculptures line shelves, tables, and the floor. A large table sits near the center of the room and displays the ASU professor of art’s work in progress. Currently, Ms. Hollingsworth is preparing for an art show at Elon University in North Carolina.
Several medium-sized pieces of sculpture in the shape of baguettes sit along the length of the table, waiting to be waxed, a final finish Ms. Hollingsworth chose for this work. Some pieces are orange-colored and others are a mix of orange and cream-colored clay. There are several methods of sculpting clay, and with this work, Ms. Hollingsworth has used a coiling technique on some pieces. She picks up two pieces of clay that were meant to be one long piece, but broke.
“Clay is forgiving and unforgiving,” she quips. “Like everything, I suppose.”
The shapes used in her sculptures cause many people to see something sexual in its meaning, says Ms. Hollingsworth. She explains, however, that there is nothing sexual about her work at all.
“I think it’s just how people’s minds work,” she says. “Often, people don’t know how to approach art. I use a lot of biological references, and I like forms that suggest something living, but they don’t spell it out.”
Her ceramic sculpture, Nub, resembles microscopic organisms, plant-like stems that appear to be in the process of growing—as if something is coming out of the middle of them. She says that her mother’s former career as a biology teacher may have inspired her work. She has many biology books that she refers to when sculpting.
“It’s the idea of generation—how you make more growth and change,” says Ms. Hollingsworth.
As a young child, the Nashville native, whose musician father played with the Grand Ole Opry and the Nashville Symphony, loved to play with paint and clay. She says that all she thought about growing up was art and music. But when she began college, like many students, she wasn’t sure if art was the path she was meant to travel. She tried engineering, but couldn’t venture away from her passion.
“The best art students are the ones who change their majors several times,” she says. Ms. Hollingsworth attended Princeton University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in visual art/art history, and she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in ceramics from Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., several years later. Right out of graduate school, she began teaching at Vincennes University in Indiana in 1992. One year later, she began teaching at Augusta State.
While at ASU, Ms. Hollingsworth has given back to her students in many ways. A few years ago, she founded the Mad Potters Club, and at the end of every semester, students in that club have a sale of their work on campus.
She has had more than 45 solo and small group exhibitions in galleries around the country, with 10 being held last year in the states of Maryland, Indiana, North Carolina, Kansas, and Georgia. Photographs of her work have been published in six recent books, including 500 Bowls and Ceramics: A Potter’s Handbook.
Who: Ms. Priscilla Hollingsworth
Position: Professor of Art and Assistant Chair of the Department of Fine Arts
How long at ASU?: 12 years
What do you love most about teaching at ASU?: “Helping people who weren't sure they had talent become strong artists . . . Persuading reluctant humanities students that art is part of what is best and most interesting in human civilization.”
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Last Modified: September 2, 2005 by K. Smith
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