He throws things

Jun Davies, Staff Reporter

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If you had to understand one thing about Elijah Pilkington, understand this: He is extremely humble, almost to a fault. His humility and gentle composition are assets to his personality; however, when it comes to his accomplishments, he converts into a more bashful version of himself.

His numerous accomplishments stem from his vast love for ceramics. As an academic mentor, teacher aide and studio tech for Michael Helle, the ceramics teacher, he spends many hours in the ceramics studio, cleaning, helping other students and improving on his skills as a ceramicist.

“As a student, Elijah is fantastic,” said Helle. “He is a wonderful mentor to his peers. [He is] eager and excited on a daily basis to work with clay and is continually pushing himself to grow artistically.”

Jason Laney, a guest artist who frequently visits the ceramics studio, describes him as a sponge.

“[He is a] sponge because he soaks up knowledge and can right away incorporate it into his work, drastically improving himself,” said Laney. “I think that as long as he keeps pushing himself, there [will be] no limit to how far he can go.”

He continued; “He’s still very early into his career. He just needs to keep creating.”

Elijah plans to attend Northern Arizona University to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in ceramics and then continue his career in ceramics by pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts. Helle is excited to see where Elijah will go from there. Helle also went to NAU for ceramics and excited to see what Elijah will do from there.

“He possesses a desire to succeed in clay. I see him following his dreams and continuing to work with clay throughout his life,” said Helle.

Elijah’s success is visible by the numerous awards and scholarships he has received for his work. This year alone, he received six Gold Keys, four Silver Keys and eight Honorable Mentions from the Scholastic Art Awards.

Additionally, he also received two Gold Keys for two portfolios that he compiled from work that he created. Portfolios contain up to eight pieces of work, centered around a theme or unifying factor. His portfolios, “Byproducts of My Interest” and “Intricacies of Fire (Wood-Fired Kiln)” received Gold Keys. It is rare for one person to receive two Gold keys for their portfolios in the same year, not to mention at all in their K-12 career.  

However, he has not only done well in the SAA but in many other shows and exhibitions as well. Elijah’s “Crackle Jar” that was submitted to the NCECA exhibition won both the Val Cushing Teaching Award and the Bailey Potter Equipment Award. Additionally, he has won “Best in Show” and received a scholarship at the OCAC high school exhibit, won a scholarship from OPA and will have his work shown at the NCECA ceramic exhibition in Kansas City, Missouri this summer.

Elijah’s success in ceramics started three and a half years ago when he decided to take ceramics since he thought it would be fun.

“I’ve always loved to make stuff,” said Elijah, with a laugh. “I saw ceramics on the forecast sheet and thought ‘How cool would it be able to use the things that I make?'”

Before ceramics, he dabbled in some crafting, but his creativity didn’t really blossom until he reached high school.

“I did some woodworking and some spray paint, but besides that not really [much else],” said Elijah. “[Ceramics] is just one of those passions that once you’ve fallen in love, why stop?”

Since his first ceramics class during freshman year, Elijah has spent every spare moment he has in the ceramics studio. I asked Helle to approximate how many hours Elijah that he has spent in the studio since that first class. He said that there was probably no possible way absolutely knowing for sure, but it was possible that it could be well over two thousand hours.

I did the math and with the assumption that he has spent at least three and a half hours a day, five days a week, every school day of the year in the ceramics room, it approximates to 2700 hours or 0.308 years. This is just an approximation, but judging by these numbers, it is easy to see the dedication that he has.

No one can doubt the passion that Elijah has for ceramics. Each and every piece he creates displays the passion and love that he has for it.

I asked him that once he gets his MFA (Master of Fine Art) will he consider himself to be a ‘master’ of ceramics.

His face turned to hardened clay as he answered.

“I’m always going to strive to be better because I don’t consider myself to be a master of anything,” he said solemnly. “I will never consider myself to be a master because there is always more to learn.”

If you’d like to see some of the work Elijah has made, click here!

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