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Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428

ADAM SNELL

WADING IN THE WAVES WITH ODYSSEUS

Senior Project DECEMBER 2015

Life experiences come in many forms, and while history definitely repeats itself we can learn from others and ourselves. By what process do we actually learn from these experiences? The answer is through stories, either written documents or verbal messages that have been passed down from generation to generation. Homer’s Odyssey tells of the voyage of Odysseus (Ulysses in later Roman documents), who left Asia Minor following the Battle of Troy to return to his homeland, the island of Ithaca in southwestern Greece. This epic poem is a powerful example of a narrative that has withstood the test of time. The adventures that Odysseus endures along his travels hold deeper meanings, and no matter what challenges he faced, the overall theme is overcoming life’s obstacles and having those individual lessons shape who you become. My Senior Project is about how I have been shaped and molded into the person that I am today via my own personal voyage.    


I have always been fascinated with stories. My grandmother and my parents would read stories to my brother and I; each of these stories had some meaning, whether to make you laugh, teach you a lesson on morals, or help you understand why certain things happen. In The Odyssey, Odysseus is forced to stop multiple times as he crossed the Mediterranean Sea. I decided to pick out a number of those individual adventures as the basis for a series of ceramic sculptures. The clay, as a medium, is a metaphor to me because you literally have to sculpt, shape, and mold it. Everyone has a different path, some more treacherous than others, but how we overcome those obstacles is what creates us. We acquire scars; a scar is our body’s reaction to something traumatic that has happened to us. We heal, but we have become hardened. Working in clay allows me to reference life’s scars through the textural properties of the material. I also included images of my own face to represent my connection with the obstacles that I have overcome.  


I have used red earthenware clay for these sculptures, and this clay body is a naturally formed substance that can be found throughout the earth. I chose to leave the pieces rough and jagged because they are meant to be symbolic of life’s scars. Every piece was made using direct hand-building and carving methods, as well as casting and mold making for the faces and figurative shapes using plaster and casting rubber. Once bone dry the sculptures are bisque fired to 1728 degrees Fahrenheit. Following the bisque, I decorated the surfaces with glazes and stains, using a selection of mineral oxides and crawl glazes to emphasize the textured surfaces. It was important to have the textures be seen and accented because they are the representation of the struggles that I faced and how I conquered them. Following the glaze and stain applications the sculptures are re-fired to 1888 degrees Fahrenheit to allow proper adhesion to the clay and chemical reactions for decorative purposes.