The hands-on artist

She picks up the clay and pushes down on the pedal. The wheel begins to turn round and round and Jessica Levey begins her delicate process.

Levey, a senior in the fine arts program at Sonoma State University, spends most days in her studio in the Art Building on campus. With the guidance of her art professors and fellow students in the studio, she works to build unique and creative ceramic art pieces. Levey was able to show the STAR her final project for the semester, a look at the vanity present in society’s obsession with celebrities and pop culture.

 “I have been using Justin Beiber as the main character in my series as a way to criticize the narcissism in pop culture,” said Levey. “I also criticize the role that superfans play in his popularity.”

 Her final series includes a mix of art forms, including a number of clay cups that involved screen-printed pictures and words, as well as an etching using acrylic paint and gel pens. Her final pieces for this semester will be submitted to a number of professors where they will individually critique her work. The professors look to give constructive criticism in order for Levey to grow as an artist and as an individual.

Levey recently submitted a piece for the recent art show organized by the Hutchins program a few weeks ago. She continued her series with pop culture with a piece titled, “Hold on, let me put on my duck lips.” The process of making the three bronze duck lips involved shaping the sand mold and then pouring hot molten bronze into the mold. The hands-on, technical process of bronze casting is another form of art that Levey greatly enjoys.

The artist also enjoys creating custom ceramic pieces and selling them online through her Etsy account, “JessicaLeveyceramics.” The account gives Levey the opportunity to work freely outside the classroom on pieces not included in the lesson plan like crochet or paint pieces, as well as custom pieces for those who might be interested.

The Oakland native first discovered her passion for ceramics in her junior year in high school. Upon taking her first ceramics course, she discovered her love for such a hands-on hobby. But hobby quickly turned to passion and then a career route as she continued to study the art form at the well-developed ceramics program at Diablo Valley College for a few years. She then transferred to Sonoma State University in 2012.

When asked about her future plans, Levey admits that while the best scenario would be to get paid to solely to create ceramic projects, her future will most likely include obtaining her teaching credentials to eventually teach art for a living.

 “I hope to one day bring the same enthusiasm to ceramics to future students that I was shown as an art student in high school and in college,” said Levey. “I particularly would love to teach art to middle school students. They are a misunderstood group of students and it would be great for teachers and students alike to improve the art programs in middle schools in the Bay Area.”

Levey was asked by her high school ceramics teacher to give a presentation later this month to high school ceramics students. She hopes to inspire those students and inform them of the possibilities for art students in the current university system. 

Levey is currently researching opportunities for graduate school, possibly at Alfred University or the University of Colorado, where she hopes to continue studying her passion for ceramics, only to one day pass that passion on to future artists.