Terry O'Day

Professor, Art Department Chair
UC Box 
Brown Hall 107 (Forest Grove)

Terry O'Day Homepage 


Visual arts training requires both technical and esthetic information. To achieve technical expertise, which includes presentation, marketing and associated studio procedures, the student completes exercises provided by an instructor. These are designed to stretch both technical and mental problem solving abilities beyond present capacities. In this way, the student becomes proficient in the media and is able to formulate concepts and develop methods of expressing these concepts unconstrained by a lack of technical knowledge.

Although technique is an integral part of any learning situation, visual and esthetic information are equally important. This type of input is provided both by the instructor and through the student's own initiative. It consists of becoming familiar with the work of other artists, both contemporary and historical, through the use of slides museums, galleries and publications.

Technique and concept are united in the process of object making. The completion of each piece produces new ideas, which reflect growth in perception and experience. Unless this cycle becomes an integral part of the student's way of working, she/he will be unable to continue working without the support of the school system. As such, it is the responsibility of the instructor to be aware of the needs of each student in order to provide a situation that challenges individual capacities on multiple levels, thus equipping the student for a career in the visual arts.


Because of our need for durable containers for cooking, storage and transport of food and drinking liquids, humans invented ceramic technology. Historically, the function and decoration of pots are so closely associated with the people that used them that the shards left behind can describe a great deal about the culture and customs of their civilization. Perhaps it is because of this intimate association that we ascribe human traits to our pots. Pots have feet, bodies, necks and mouths and a pot with the appropriate visual balance of these parts is said to have "life.” Conversely, philosophers have described humans as vessels or containers for the soul and writers speak of the "pouring out of emotion,” as if a person were a pitcher or a teapot. Pots, then, can be considered to be a portrait of the people that use them. It is these thoughts that direct my approach towards ceramics. Each pot I make must have some kind of personality and, since very few people live completely outside of society, I often think of them in terms of groupings. A pitcher has a certain relationship to the cups it is used to fill. Serving dishes hold the food that is put onto the plates. Bowls are usually stacked until it is time to use them. Thus, although each piece of tableware has a different function, they all live together on the table and in the cabinets and must somehow get along with each other if there is to be any harmony at mealtimes. Even if a particular pot is made to stand alone, it is usually placed where it must visually and functionally relate to the other objects in a home. A person who buys a pot does so because that pot has a personality that will allow it to fit into that person’s environment. Thus, each pot I make, whether it is functional or sculptural, must have a visual character that reveals its inner spirit and reflects the attributes of the humans that come into contact with it.

Metals / Drawing

My drawings and metalwork are ideologically related. They record my reflections on the enduring and cyclical nature of life and on the concept of personal immortality through reproduction. I am also interested in the moments of decision that can alter the course of an individual's life. It seems to me that the degree of success a person has in searching out and understanding their hidden and underlying motivations determines whether or not that individual can look back on their life with a feeling of satisfaction. My work also explores how our perception of self and the things we consider valuable change as we age and experience life.

Terry O'Day Projects