Arts & Culture

Upside-down potters are part of new Ohr-O'Keefe Museum contraption

The STEAMpunk Pottery Project will be unveiled at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art on Saturday.
The STEAMpunk Pottery Project will be unveiled at the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art on Saturday. COURTESY STEVE BARNEY/OHR-O'KEEFE MUSEUM OF ART

BILOXI -- Now that's using your head.

The Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art and its new maker-in-residence, Steve Barney, are unveiling a contraption Saturday that would make George Ohr proud: a Rube Goldberg-type apparatus that dangles humans upside down while creating pottery with their noggins.

The STEAMpunk Pottery Project is designed to entertain, educate and pique interest in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

Coastians will have a chance to see the device in action -- making pottery upside down -- from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday during free demonstrations at the museum.

"We're known for ceramics and the eccentricity of George Ohr, and this contraption dovetails beautifully with those missions," museum director Kevin O'Brien said, "and it also ties in with one of the most important missions of schools these days: STEM. We're adding an A for art to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"George Ohr, known for his pottery and innovative marketing efforts, would be proud."

O'Brien said Barney's STEAMPunk Pottery Project will be based at the museum and will make promotional visits to special events. The unveiling is a sneak preview for the STEAMpunk Pottery Project's March 5 premiere, coinciding with CoastCon on the Coast, March 4-6.

"We anticipate hosting school groups on a regular basis to see the STEAMPunk Pottery Project," O'Brien said. "This project will create interest in pottery and pottery making, and it will do it in an educational and entertaining fashion."

The steampunk movement, set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, combines technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Some features have been described as anachronistic technologies or retro futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them.

STEM programs are designed to integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the classroom. These programs aim to teach students to think critically and use an engineering approach on real-world problems while building their math and science knowledge. The evolving STEAM movement seeks to integrate art and design into STEM curricula.