by:  Marisa Miller

Guests at the Vitrified Opening Reception talk with Phardel.

Tom Phardel wears many hats – educator, artist, curator – and ceramics play a role in nearly all of them.

Phardel graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and then from the University of Michigan with a Masters of Fine Arts. He’s been the Ceramics Chairperson at the College for Creative Studies for 32 years and counting. Phardel also has a long history with Pewabic.

Having taught in Pewabic’s education department in the 1980s before moving on to teach at colleges, he has a long history with Pewabic, and he knows a thing or two about his craft.

Phardel smiles during a conversation with participants at Pewabic’s 2015 Raku Party.

More recently, Phardel curated Pewabic’s Vitrified exhibition, which premiered to the public on September 16 and is now wrapping up. For this latest exhibit, Phardel said his vision was to focus on Michigan artists, including two established artists and two younger ones to watch.

Guests and artists spend time at the Vitrified Opening Reception.

“Often the ‘homies’ are overlooked and taken for granted. I felt the show [Vitrified] demonstrated their commitment to their work.”

Phardel explained that he felt the artists he chose to show in Vitrified represent a diverse vision of what clay can be.

“Each artist has developed a visual vocabulary that sets them apart,” Phardel said. “All excel at both the craft of making as well as a developed artistic vision.”

Some of the visitors at the Vitrified Opening Reception.

Curating a smaller exhibition like Vitrified is no different than curating a larger-scale one. Phardel said that curation is just picking the work [the curator] feels strongly about.

Now that Vitrified at Pewabic is coming to an end, Phardel is looking toward upcoming shows and more opportunities to curate.