Turning passion into pottery: K-State ceramics instructor shares artistic journey

Flor Widmar, ceramics instructor at K-State, poses behind a variety of clay pots. Widmar recently displayed her pottery in the art exhibit "In Passing," and she is currently teaching ceramics classes. (Hannah Greer | Collegian Media Group)

Flor Widmar is more than just an art instructor at Kansas State University — she is also a full-time artist with a diverse background and a passion for ceramics.

Her ceramics skillset is something Widmar said she tries to use to help her students succeed. However, this adoration for ceramics used to previously resemble a love-hate relationship instead, she said.

Widmar was born and raised in a small town in Mexico. She said her first memory of making something out of clay was at her grandmother’s studio. It was often clumped on top of her grandmother’s hand-made pottery wheel. Due to the fragility of the pieces, Widmar said her grandma would not let her play with the wheel.

“The potter’s wheel my grandpa made was a kick wheel, very old fashioned, and we all wanted to play on it, but it wasn’t a toy,” Widmar said.

Widmar later moved to a city with a big high school in the United States where art classes were required. She said she was reluctant to take ceramics at first, recalling her memories of getting in trouble at her grandmother’s studio, but when it came down to it, she decided to take ceramics.

“I would go every day after school to learn how to center the clay,” Widmar said. “It took me about a month to learn, and I became instantly hooked.”

Widmar said she only saw ceramics as a hobby, and never as a career — until she switched majors in her second semester of college.

“I was a biology major, and quickly, after I took a ceramics class, I switched majors and pursued it as a real career,” Widmar said.

After graduation, Widmar got a job teaching in a small art school in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She said her average student was around the age of 70, if not older.

Charles Weckwerth, freshman in fine arts, said this experience teaching with older students shows in Widmar’s teaching style.

“You can tell she did teach with more mature people because she gets to the point and she is very personable,” Weckwerth said.

After her first job out of college, Widmar took up a position at K-State in the fall of 2018 as a ceramics area artist in residence, and she has received praise as an asset to the department.

Widmar recently had a ceramic art exhibition called “In Passing,” which focused on mourning the losses of those killed on highways and roads across the world. She said this artistic focus originated from living in Mexico and seeing a lot of deaths from vehicular accidents and memorials alongside the roads.

“Using this topic allowed me not just to work with ceramics, but to work with other mediums such as my sculpture background and using other elements,” Widmar said.