While digital tools negated much of the misery of the Pandemic, it was clear that this mode of communication was sub optimal. Students of the visual arts have now several competitors to actually or physically making things themselves, there is the fabrication-based approach, where a person employs the skills of another to create their vision and the world of NFT’s where the artwork is aligned to a digital currency that exists primarily on hard drives and screens. As a ceramicist I place a high value on the making of things myself. I believe that there is much to learn in a process intense endeavor, not merely the technical aspects of the enterprise, but still much more to discover about fundamentals of life and oneself along the way, patience, determination, focus, accumulating skills and knowledge through repetitive experiments, and the value of failure. Making real things in the real world is important, as students realize, there is no easy way to erase, delete or undo something once it has been done. The recent history of the UAE has some unique circumstances that may also speak to why these issues may relate more here than in other regions. In researching this issue, I will look to my own students to provide me with data, via the projects that I will and have set them, and develop methods of how to interpret and present these findings.
Michael Rice is an Irish Artist, Designer and Maker. He is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics and is the IAC UNESCO representative for the UAE, he was a finalist in the Taiwan Ceramic Biennale 2016, the Korean Ceramic Biennale 2019 and again in the Taiwan Ceramic Biennale 2020. He 2021 was a Finalist in the International KOGEI Award in Toyama Japan and is currently exhibiting in the National Craft and Design Gallery of Ireland. Michael is Chair of the VC department at AUD and a Professor of Studio Art in the American University in Dubai.