Leaving his mark one ceramic bowl at a time

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Peter Meyer instructs students during his class. There are three ceramics classes that are offered: wheel throwing, beginning handbuilding and intermediate ceramics.

By Katya Agatucci | The Broadside (Contact: kagatucci2@cocc.edu)

After 20 year of influencing and contributing to the art community in Central Oregon, Peter Meyer is retiring from his love of teaching ceramics.

Peter Meyer with a ceramic bowl that he made with local materials in Oregon, including wood ash. “You get unique glazes that you’re not going to get any other way. I’m going to keep messing with that.”

From embracing summer by bringing his art to sell at the Oregon Country Fair, transforming the ceramics curriculum, to showing his work in gallery in Yachats, Meyer has left his mark on the art community in Oregon.

Bill Hoppe, professor of art, has known Meyer since 1999. “My first impression of him was that of a true gentlemen, a dedicated teacher, a rye midwestern kind of sense of humor, and he has a great laugh. He’s always dressed well too,” he said.

“As a kid I used to always wanted to make things. I always had my hands in something. Digging holes, playing with materials in different ways, motors, machines, all that stuff,” Meyer said.

To Meyer, ceramics is appealing to him because of the technical side that is more comfortable. “Ceramics fit my mentality a bit more because there was a certain artistic side but also this technical side that kept me interested. With painting, you can veer off course, but with ceramics if you veer off it demands that you come back and you have to do certain things just right or else it won’t work. That kind of kept me on track.”

Hoppe said that his interest in art expands very wide, beyond his own discipline. “He’s just as likely to be reading on a contemporary painting as he is a sculpture. He’s the real thing. He’s an artist, a teacher, a friend, husband, a brother; he’s the most you could expect.”

Meyer is an adjunct professor of art, but he does well beyond the requirements of an adjunct professor according to Bill Cravis, asst. professor of art. ”It is very clear that Peter gives above and beyond the expectations of an adjunct faculty. The students and his colleagues are the beneficiaries. That’s on his own initiative, he could be much less involved if he chose to be.”

“It’s so hard to not do more. It kind of goes against our tendencies to not do it when the students are eager,” Meyer said.

In 1998, Meyer started at Central Oregon Community College in a part-time position and has been a part of the campus ever since. “My favorite part about teaching is always the students. There’s something rewarding about having a passion for something. Most of the excellent teachers around have a passion for what they are teaching. When you share that and a student responds, it’s really fulfilling to see that.”

Aside from Meyer’s students, the faculty that he works with is another part of his job that he enjoys and they have been a great influence on him. “I’ve learned from their dedication in teaching and what it takes to be a good teacher. That’s been a great influence for me.”  

At first, Meyer started his education that was more geared towards studying math and science, but an elective drawing class changed everything. “I got hooked from that. The next semester I changed majors and became an art major.”

At the University of South Dakota, Meyer earned a BFA in ceramics and printmaking and then continued to graduate school at the University of Oregon.

Hoppe said that in the art department, Meyer establishes a standard of behavior and that he thinks that he is the confident in the department.

He is, without question, the go-to person in ceramics. He’s brought a reputation for quality in ceramics to the community,” Hoppe said. “He makes these beautiful objects that we get to drink our coffee out of. That’s no small thing. When you have one and it came from Peter, you know it’s really special. ”

In retirement, Meyer plans to keep making pottery and expand his continual studying that he has been conducting with the local materials in Oregon that can be used as glaze materials. Alongside his wife, he wants to continue to travel the northwest, hike, cook, and keep making his art.

I know I will miss it, but hopefully I will be busy enough with other things. I’m excited to see who the new instructor will be and what they will do up here. We will see,” Meyer said. 

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