Category: UIUC Undergrad Anth Majors in the News!

Jamie Arjona and Steve Szynal of UIUC excavate at Pottersville

Jamie Arjona and Steve Szynal of UIUC excavate at Pottersville

Unearthing the Past: Edgefield Pottery Excavations Reveal New, Surprising Information

June 30, 2012, by DeDe Biles, Aiken Standard News

Archaeological excavations are uncovering new and surprising information about the potteries that thrived in Aiken and Edgefield counties in the first half of the 1800s.

“There is a sparse documentary record of this area that is maddening, and what we’ve found has been a complete revelation,” said Dr. Christopher Fennell, an associate professor and the associate head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Fennell and a team of graduate and undergraduate students, along with some volunteers, have been working at Pottersville, a site not far from downtown Edgefield, since just after Memorial Day. They are scheduled to wrap up this year’s efforts on Friday. Their focus in 2013 has been to add to the knowledge gained during a series of digs at the same location in 2011.

Before then, much of what was known about local potteries in the past suggested that a groundhog kiln about 25 to 30 feet in length and 9 to 10 feet wide would be found at Pottersville. Instead, the researchers discovered a kiln that was more than 105 feet long and had a sloping floor similar to the dragon kilns used in China.

“It gave us quite a new view of Edgefield,” Fennell said. “There had been a working historical theory before then that this had started out as smaller scale crafts industry. But what was found was a much bigger industrial-scale pottery.”

Read the full article online.

We have a brand-new U of I chapter of Lambda Alpha, the National Anthropology Honors Society!  ANTH Major, Jen Freeland, has taken the lead in coordinating many details to create the chapter.  Kudos to Jen!

Membership in Lambda Alpha offers many advantages:

-opportunity to publish in the organization’s annual journal, which sets aside half its pages for undergraduate students’ essays (think: Capstone project/Honors Thesis!)–we’ll soon receive issues of the journal, which will be stored in the Undergrad Advisor’s office, where you’ll be welcome to browse through the journal

-opportunity to apply for grants: A $5,000 scholarship is awarded to a graduating senior majoring in anthropology, and the society also sponsors a Graduate Overseas Research Grant competition ($1,000 – $4,000). Only members who belong to chartered chapters are eligible to compete for these awards and grants.

-opportunity to network with peers nationally

-opportunity to wear fancy regalia (stole + pin) at graduation to display your membership proudly

-opportunity to develop leadership skills in a national organization

-prestige on your résumé

-and all this for the bargain price of $25 for a LIFETIME membership!

Make sure to “friend” the group:  Anthropology Club/Lambda Alpha UIUC.

Jen Freeland provides more details about our new chapter, how it’s merged with our Anthropology Club, and some upcoming activities for the joint group:

As of March, 2013, the newly established Mu of Illinois chapter of Lambda Alpha National Collegiate Anthropology Honors Society has 38 official members. Upon launching our new chapter, it was agreed by students and faculty that a unification between the preexisting Anthropology Club and the new Lambda Alpha chapter would be in the best interest of students and would allow for a closer community of anthropology students to grow.


It is the mission of the UIUC Anthropology Club/Lambda Alpha to create a community in which anthropology students can come together in order to share their passion for anthropos (“humanity” in Greek!) through linguistic, sociocultural, biological, and archaeological influences.  We promise to offer students social activities through the Anthropology Club as well as academic opportunities through Lambda Alpha National Collegiate Anthropology Honors Society in order to aid students through their growth and development as anthropologists.

Here is a list of our official Exec Board members:

Jenny Winkler – Anthropology Club President

Jen Freeland – Lambda Alpha President

Rachel Ogden – Secretary (will write our annual report for the national Lambda Alpha newsletter)

Kristine Parker – Treasurer

Grace Hall & Anna Prior – Academic Activities (Lambda Alpha)

Cheyenne Phelps – Social Activities (Anth Club)

Everyone liked the idea of having a movie/snack/relaxation room before finals. We are definitely going to schedule one for this semester!

I posted a link to the Facebook page about the current Lascaux exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago with a lot of positive responses. I think we are also going to arrange a day trip up there right after finals.

UIUC ANTH major, Tara McGovern, worked as an intern for the Chicago Humanities Festival this past summer (’12), an the CHF has just published a post she wrote about the summer she spent doing an archaeological field school in Belize with Prof. Lisa Lucero.  The post was written to publicize Prof. Lucero’s upcoming event in Chicago for the CHF.  


Come see ten of our graduating seniors present the research they’ve done this year for their Senior Capstone Projects!

When: Thur., April 19th, 5:30 – 8:30 pm

Where: 160 English Bldg

Come hungry–we’ll have lots of delicious food from Red Herring!

UIUC’s own ANTH major, Gordana Rasic, debuted her fashion line at a major fashion event in New York City yesterday.  Gordana brings her anthropological training to bear on the clothes she designs.  The theme of her current collection is “Duality within Society;” in a nod to her academic focus at the U of I on biological anthropology, her previous collection explored the theme of “Vital Organs.”  Gordana says the woman she imagines designing for is “very self-empowered and unafraid to speak her mind.”

Gordana Rasic Enjoying the Limelight (with co-designer Omar Villalobos & a Model) after Their Line Has Debuted on the Runway of EMERGE! at Fashion Week, Feb. 14, 2012 (photo by Hannah Gottlieb-Graham)

Gordana is already making a splash in the New York fashion world.  On Feb. 14, she was one of six “emerging” designers–and by far, the youngest–from around the world whose work was showcased at the third semi-annual “EMERGE!” event held as part of New York’s famed “Fashion Week.”   The event was held at the Broad Street Ballroom in lower Manhattan.

The by-invitation-only event was hosted by actress Tracee Ellis Ross and model Chavis Aaron.  At the event, canonical fashion designer, Dianne von Furstenburg, bestowed Fashion Innovator Award on Vogue magazine’s designer, André Leon Talley.  Other featured designers included  Terri Stevens, who was featured on Season 4 of “Project Runway.”  In the audience, “celebrity sightings” included Angela Simmons, Toccara, Derek J, B Smith,  Ashanti, New York Housewives Jill Zarin, and Alex and Simon McCord.

You can look at Gordana’s designs and read more about her fashion line on her homepage:  We can’t wait to see more from our anthropologist-fashion designer!  We’re proud of your successes, Gordana!

Gordana Rasic (with her company vice-president, Omar Villalobos) Taking Bows on the Runway after Their New Line has Debuted at the EMERGE Show of Fashion Week, 2/14/12 (photo by Hannah Gottlieb-Graham)

Gordana Relaxing on the Balcony of a NYC Bldg before Her Debut at the EMERGE Fashion Show in NYC

Thanks to the South Carolina Humanities Council and National Endowment for the Humanities for grant support for two projects on Edgefield ceramics and archaeology. Congratulations to the Edgefield County Historical Society, as the sponsoring organization for these projects, and to George Calfas as Project Director and author of the grant proposals.

The first project consisted of a five-part speaker series convened in South Carolina in the Summer of 2011, entitled “Pottersville: 200 Years of Pottery Production in the Edgefield District.”

The second project is entitled “Pottersville: Home of Alkaline Glazed Stoneware,” and has the following description on the S.C. Humanities Council web site: “create a short documentary film of 8 to 10 minutes showcasing the alkaline-glazed stoneware tradition that is so important in Edgefield County. This film will be presented at the Joanne T. Rainsford Discovery Center in Edgefield, the McKissick Museum in Columbia, at regional historical society meetings, as well as on several websites, including SCETV’s, which reaches K-12 classrooms across the state” (

Over the past few months Mr. Calfas and his colleagues have been working with Storyline Media to edit film footage with the goal of sharing the rich history of the pottery communities of Edgefield, the accomplishments of African-American and European-American artisans in those industries, and to document the 2011 Archaeological Fieldschool at Pottersville. The final product is a concise, 15 minute documentary now available online. In the coming month a DVD version will be added to the Anthropology department video library. If you would like a copy please let Mr. Calfas know, and please pass along this information to others who may be interested. Additional information about this multi-year, collaborative research and education project is also available online.

Yes, you read correctly.

Our own Gordana Rasic–who is a a pre-med student double-majoring in anthropology and molecular and cell biology, has a secret life as a fashion designer . . . She’s only been designing clothes for a year-and-a-half, but she already has her own business, called Goca — and her current collection has been chosen to be featured at “EMERGE!,” an event held as part of Fashion Week that features five emerging fashion designers from around the world.  Gordana is one of the five!  If you’d like to see the sorts of clothes she designs, check out the website of her business:

The organizers of EMERGE! are already featuring publicity about the upcoming runway show, and they’ve interviewed Gordana, along with her collaborator (Omar Villalobos), on their website.  You can see the 3-minute video interview here:

Good luck in New York, Gordana!

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