Sharif Bey: Interview with a Pittsburgh Artist


Art. Art comes in many forms, shapes, and sizes as the wide range of artists all around the world attempt to make a mark on the modern day shaping of today’s society. Through an artist’s work, no matter who they are, you should be able to tell how dedicated they are to their work and how much of themselves they have poured into their masterpiece. With astounding artist and pottery maker Sharif Bey, there is no question to how much dedication and personality is emitted through his work. Even though this is true, there is much more to know beyond the artwork itself and into the life of Sharif Bey. Straight out of Beltzhoover Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Dr. Sharif Bay is a professor in Art Educa

tion and a professional ceramics and pottery maker. As I interviewed Dr. Bey, I slowly started to construct an understanding of how much he knew about his work and what kind of strategies he

uses to perform it. I began to realize that Dr. Bey really understood what he was working on, and even mastered these skills that he was utilizing all the way from firing a clay made pot to the features of the clay that he uses to mold (Fun Fact: If clay is left out for a certain long period of time, the color with begin to turn green, as said by Dr. Sharif Bey.) He knows the processes in and out, making it look like he’s performed the procedures over 1000 times. Even though this is all impressive, it shouldn’t come as a surprise once it is understood that Dr. Sharif Bey does, in fact, have his Ph.D. in Art Education and is a professor who teaches at Syracuse University. Honestly, the professionalism of the

way he handles the ceramics making and the amount of ceramics vocabulary that he uses compliment his Ph.D. and teaching ways. Sharif Bey was brought into Obama Academy last week to speak to 10th-grade students attending ceramic classes at the time by Union Project, an organization working with the school.

As I had personally been given the opportunity of interviewing Sharif Bey that day he attended the school, I learned many things from that experience and even got the opportunity to ask a few questions. The first questions I had asked were “Do you plan on continuing Ceramic making for a long time? Do you get paid for your work?” As it seems that Dr. Bey sells a lot of pottery through many mediums such as public commissions, museums, and other places such as those, ceramics and pottery-making is just a hobby that he has that chance to make money off of. But, his main source of income happens to be from his job as a college professor as previously stated. Not only that, but Sharif Bey is so into his work and what he happens to be doing now that he has told me that he plans to work until he dies. The second question I happened to ask Dr. Bey was “Do you have any first inspiration, or moment that sparked you to continue cer

amics?” He responded with a story, of him first taking a liking to his middle school ceramics teacher which the class had eventually allowed a certain club to work with the school. He discovered at this club, the Craftsman’s Guild, that he could work in a profession that involved what he enjoyed to do; ceramics making and art. Not only that, but his family had always seemed to be the artistic type as his father was also a wood carver and did a lot of wood carvings. This led to Sharif Bey finally deciding on his profession when he was 15 years old. As he has stated though, it wasn’t until he was 30 when he learned to write that his career really took off. Sharif Bey himself said that the art of journalism helped his profession as when he needed to write things such as course proposals and such, he had those set of skills to assist him. The final question I had asked Sharif Bey was “Is there anything that you want me to know about your work or you in general that you haven’t already told me?” He responded with a reason to why he makes people know that he is from Beltzhoover in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Apparently as record shows, that Beltzhoover has a pretty bad rep in the city as many crime reports and such come from that area. Sharif Bey wants to make sure that his community’s reputation is not completely ruined, as he is living proof that not all bad things come from that area. Just to prove that if he can succeed and get a degree coming from a so-called “bad” neighborhood, then anybody can do the same, especially in his community. Personally, I believe that Sharif Bey is an amazing artist that deserves plenty more recognition than he receives even in his city. Many pieces of his artwork are still shown today (even a piece that he made years ago from his first trip to Obama Academy that still sits in the window of their Ceramics room to this day) and many people still haven’t heard of the work that he contributes to his community. Most likely as he said Sharif Bey will continue to make amazing artistic pieces throughout his career, and hopefully, Pittsburgh and the world will continue to be able to witness his masterpieces.