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Fire Fest to inspire creativity and careers among artists

Hocking College’s first ever Fire Fest will be held Saturday, Feb. 8, from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Hocking College Visual Arts Center. The event plans to bring together artists and community members to celebrate fire-based media such as glass and ceramics.

Not to be confused with the infamous Fyre Festival, Hocking College’s Fire Fest will be $8 to attend, allowing community members to watch and participate in glass and ceramic demonstrations, learn about 3D arts at Hocking College and network with local artists.

Whitney Goller, instructor of creative arts at Hocking College and organizer of the event, was inspired by Nelsonville’s Fire & Ice event, which is held annually in Nelsonville’s square. Goller is thrilled for Fire Fest because it is the first time Hocking College’s Art & Design program has hosted an event like this.

“We are hoping to bring people together around the arts, to show our community the great equipment they have access to through Hocking Makers Network and to help our students build connections to the people around us,” Goller said.

A number of events will be happening simultaneously in the Visual Arts Center’s hot shop, cold shop, flameworking studio and ceramics studio during the festival. Hocking students and alumni will mainly comprise the festival’s lineup, but a number of local Ohio artists will also be attending. Sarah Hahn, Kevin Russell, Don Kocian, Sabrina Suman and Lindsay Cooper are just a few of the artists expected to create art for live audiences. 

Nine live demonstrations will be held in glass casting, glass blowing, flameworking, fused glass, raku firing, figurative sculpting, and both large-scale and miniature-scale wheel throwing. Fire Fest will also have a 7 p.m. competition to see who can throw the tallest cone on the wheel.

“There will also be vendor booths for the Dairy Barn, Hocking College students and more,” Goller said. “Visitors can purchase artwork and learn more about the great Southeast Ohio artist communities.”

Goller explained that the selection process for Fire Fest artists is fairly simple: if artists fit the theme, they belong at Fire Fest. Goller reached out to ceramic artist Sarah Hahn and asked if she’d be interested in demonstrating as the two had served on the Ohio Art League Board together. 

Hahn will use clay in her demonstration, primarily focusing on the figure. She plans to create a realistic bust while discussing the meaning behind the figures she builds.

“Events like these are great ways to pick up on new techniques and approaches to creating,” Hahn said. “Over the years I have benefited from every workshop I have attended, by either gaining a better understanding of someone else's ideology behind making their work or by gaining a new skill set.  Workshops are also a great way to meet individuals that share a common passion for art and creating. There is an energy at these events that ignites a fervour to create in one's own studio afterwards.”

Lindsay Cooper, an artist and 2019 alumni of Hocking College, will also be in attendance, teaching visitors how to make paperweights.

“I hope this experience sparks younger generations to pursue art so that they can turn their passion into a career.” Cooper said.

Goller is incredibly excited for the Fire Fest event, seeing it as an opportunity for the community to learn, grow and connect. 

“We are expecting that some great communities will come together to share information about their crafts, make connections, and have some fun with fire,” Goller said.


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