“Failure is only bad when you give up,” said Rich Briggs, an art professor.
Briggs believes that even if you are not going to be an artist, a liberal arts degree can be a great tool.
“You learn a lot when getting an art degree,” Briggs said. “You learn how to think creatively; you learn to work with other people; you learn to meet a deadline, and most importantly, you learn how to fail.”
Briggs has thrown pottery for over 40 years. He first got into pottery in high school after taking some photography and art classes.
“I had an art class in high school that dealt with clay, but I had never thrown on the wheel,” Briggs said. “I just wanted to try something new, and I fell in love.”
Briggs moved around for his schooling. He started at Dixie State College where he learned how to throw; then he moved back to California where he received his associate’s degree from Chabot Junior College. Afterward, he transferred to California State University, then to BYU and finally ended up at Utah State University.
“I treated every school as a big workshop,” Briggs said. “I was able to learn different things from different instructors.”
Although Briggs struggled with throwing at first, he found he had a real talent for it.
“I didn’t know I had a talent beforehand,” Briggs said. “You need to explore; you need to try things, and you need to go down a few blind alleys to see where they lead.”
Briggs’ favorite project was building three wood-burning kilns with his students. Wood-burning kilns are a natural way to glaze pottery with ash in temperatures up to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Briggs will retire from BYU-Idaho after 22 years of teaching at the end of this semester. Some of his work will be on display at the showcase, “Brush Fire,” in the Spori gallery along with the work of Sally Ellis, an adjunct art professor and watercolor instructor.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is the variety, examples from eight different kinds of kilns and firing methods and different techniques,” Briggs said.