Get in Touch with your Creative
Side at OCC
Oakland Community College offers a wealth of arts programs. You can earn an associate degree with directed experience in a variety of art media, including painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry making, stained glass and printmaking.
Nationally known artists are OCC teachers
Many of OCC’s faculty members in fine arts have earned local, national and even international acclaim. A June 19, 2001
Detroit Free Press article highlighted three OCC faculty members whose works were part of a Birmingham gallery display titled "Beyond the 50’s": Daniel Mendelson, who works in watercolor, teaches at OCC’s Royal Oak Campus; Raymond Katz, who creates abstract works in metal, teaches art, furniture design and clay modeling for industry at the Auburn Hills Campus; and Robert Piepenburg, internationally known for his ceramic creations using the Japanese firing method called raku, teaches at Orchard Ridge Campus in Farmington Hills.
Royal Oak Campus
focuses on careers in clay
OCC has one of the strongest, most diverse and most unique programs in the entire state – its "clay" program. Three campuses offer ceramics classes, but each has a slightly different focus. At the Royal Oak Campus, Dr. Charles Blosser developed a ceramics technology program in 1974 that focuses on providing students not only with the technical skills needed to create quality pottery but also with the business knowledge they would need to operate their own small businesses as potters and the skills to develop, price and display their "product lines." The work of advanced students at the Royal Oak Campus has been showcased every December for the past 25 years at the OCC Potters Market.
In 2000, 133 student artists sold 28,700 pieces of their work during the three-day show that is the largest of its type in the Midwest. It was attended by 9,000 individuals.
Auburn Hills Campus nurtures social responsibility
At the Auburn Hills Campus, under the
leadership of Henry Tanaka,
not only learn about art and ceramics as a visual language, they also focus
on the history of ceramics and the process of making this art form. Advanced
ceramics students who take classes at Auburn Hills can access a diversity of
kilns to fire their works – wood-fired, soda-fired, electric and oxidation.
For the seven years since he came to OCC, Tanaka has also worked to instill
a sense of social responsibility in students, having them participate each
December in the Empty Bowl Program which raises funds for the Light House in
Orchard Ridge Campus focuses on the fine arts tradition Orchard Ridge focuses on ceramics as art, a focus shaped by Robert Piepenburg whose work in raku is shown in the Smithsonian Institution.
Piepenburg’s commissions have spanned the globe, as have his workshops and showings. His sculptures and ceramic wall murals grace the Federal Mogul World Headquarters in Southfield, the Cadillac City-County Building, Oakland University, the University of Michigan – Dearborn, and the Orlando Airport.
Piepenburg believes his profession allows him to experience the best of two worlds – making art and teaching, which is all about "making human beings."
Piepenburg also created a unique maze on a sunken terrace at the Orchard Ridge Campus. The 31-foot-diameter, brick-paver maze is a modern version of a medieval concept, Piepenburg explained, and was designed to help people experience a sense of relaxation, meditation and, finally, spiritual renewal and rejuvenation as they walk the various circular pathways leading to the center of the maze.
FACULTY: Kegham Tazian
In 1967, Kegham Tazian let his fingers do the walking, found OCC’s phone
number in the Yellow Pages, called the college and became the first art
department faculty member hired at OCC. Tazian, whose ancestry is Armenian,
was raised in Beirut, Lebanon, but came to the United States in 1960,
determined to be an artist. After earning two degrees in Ft. Wayne, Indiana,
Tazian came to Detroit, attracted by its large and active Armenian
community, and completed a master’s in sculpture from Wayne State
Tazian, who works in a wide range of media, has had scores of local,
national and international
one-man and group art exhibitions. His commissioned works include works for
Wayne State University, Siemens International and TRW, as well as bronze
doors for St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Dearborn. He also completed an
eight-foot, 550 pound bronze commemorating the 125th anniversary of the City
of Farmington Hills; it adorns the front of City Hall, celebrating the
history and the diversity of the city.
Most recently he has been experimenting with a new tool to enhance his
work – the computer. While on sabbatical last year, he began working with a
computer program called Fractile Painters, substituting a computer screen
for the traditional painter’s canvas. Once he has created his painting on
the screen choosing brush styles, textures and colors from the program,
Tazian has the computer image transferred to watercolor paper. He then
proceeds to enhance and individualize the work by hand, adding more paint,
additional drawing or collages.
Tazian loves teaching and tries to instill in his students that it is
essential for an artist – as well as a purchaser and enjoyer of art – to
learn how to focus on something in order to truly become aware of all of its