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Ceramic instructors create gift for sister city Sapporo, Japan

Photos and Story by

Hi-RES PHOTO (Donna Cole and Jim Johnstone in studio)

Hi-RES PHOTO (The Sapporo Art)

ROCK CREEK CAMPUS – Two Portland Community College Rock Creek Campus (17705 N.W. Springville Road) ceramics staff members, Donna Cole and Jim Johnstone, were chosen by the Hokkaido Japan Potters’ Society to present a ceramics project at a prestigious international pottery show at Sapporo Museum of Contemporary Arts.

The September 11-26 show, “Art Fest of Clay and Fire,” coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Portland-Sapporo sister city relationship; Cole and Johnstone, both long-time members of the Oregon Potters’ Association, conceptualized and created a project that would honor the association between Portland and Sapporo, and between Oregon and Japan.

Cole, a visual arts instructor at PCC for 16 years, had designed a technique using tar paper to build boxes out of soft clay. Johnstone, who is the campus’ instructional support technician, had been tinkering with a silk-screening process by which he could transfer his photo images onto clay. Together they conceptualized a rectangular clay box featuring silk screened images of Sapporo and Portland on each side.

“It was made to show Portland and Sapporo as one continuous landscape,” Cole said.

Cole notes that the pair made five test runs at Rock Creek (17705 N.W. Springville Road), not all of them successful.

“One blew up, and one cracked,” said Cole. “But, ironically, the first one (we made) was the one that survived.”

A double-humped lid was added, representing the mountains of Oregon and Japan, and that box was packed for the trip to Sapporo.

“It only toppled over once, but there was so much bubble wrap it was fine,” Johnstone said.

At the show in Sapporo, the duo made a second box with the same design, using the techniques they’d perfected. They presented the original box to the president of the Hokkaido Potters Society, who later presented it to the mayor of Sapporo.

“The box was well appreciated,” Cole added. “It was very much a ‘hands across the border’ piece.”

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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