Ben Pezzano wanted his Senior Project to combine his two greatest passions; ceramic pottery and saving the world.




On Saturday May 12, his final project will do just that. Teaming up with Ashland's Peace House, the North Medford High School senior will hold an art sale displaying more than 100 pieces of his ceramic work and donate all of the proceeds to the non-profit organization.




"I always knew I wanted to do a pottery sale for my Senior Project," said Pezzano, "but I also wanted to do something different, something that really means something to me."




When Pezzano began researching the work of Peace House he knew he wanted to his sale to support them.




"Their beliefs and feelings hit home with me," said Pezzano. "They are also local which is very cool."




Peace House is a non-profit organization with a mission of being a non-violence center for education and action, social change justice and environmental sustainability. The proceeds Pezzano earns from his pottery sale will go towards the organizations many charitable programs including Uncle Food's Diner, a free weekly community meal for the homeless and economically disadvantaged and The McGowan Peace Garden, where they grow vegetables and herbs to support Uncle Food's Diner.




Pezzano, who was raised in Ashland but moved to Medford in the fifth grade, is looking forward to the opportunity to use his ceramic art to help such a cause. He began working with clay during his sophomore year in high school when he enrolled in Susanna Bahaar's ceramic art class. Since then, he has created hundreds of works from tea cups to mixing bowls and used over 500 lbs. of clay. His work has been featured in the high school feature art show, "The Best of the Best", for two years running, and this April Pezzano was named North Medford High School's "Student of the Month." This year along with a ceramic class every morning, he is also the teacher's assistant in Bahaar's afternoon ceramics class.




"Ben's ability in ceramics is quite astounding," said Bahaar, who has been teaching ceramics at North Medford for the last 11 years. "His work is beautiful."




North Medford High School's ceramic program is quite unique, as it provides a ceramics-only art class where students focus on only pottery and sculpture, instead of being an integrated art class with drawing and painting included. According to Bahaar, some years her ceramic classes have had more than 400 kids enrolled over the course of two semesters. This year, with more than 350 total students, Bahaar feels she has some of the most talented students she has seen in her 11 years.




"They have given me a renewed energy for teaching this year," said Bahaar, noting for instance the kindness of Pezzano's pottery sale. "Ben has put so much energy into this project. He is really excited to show his work to the public."




Following high school graduation next month Pezzano plans to pursue his love of ceramics to the Anderson Ranch Center for the Visual Arts, an intensive art study program in Colorado where high caliber artists go to teach their crafts to others.




"I have the drive and the skills," said Pezzano, "But I need to hone my craft. This is my hearts desire, and if I can do that for the rest of my life I will die happy."




As for his passion for the craft, Pezzano can sum up his artistic process in one sentence.




"I take all of the elements and use them to turn a hunk of mud into permanent artwork."




What's not to love?




Ben Pezzano's Ceramic Art Fundraiser will take place from — to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 12 at the Peace House headquarters. Peace House is located at 543 S. Mountain Avenue, Ashland.