Discover Lasell

From Novice to Master

November 20, 2019

Peter Stringham, a resident of Lasell Village, loves to create art and innovate. As a student in Professor Deborah Baldizar's ceramics class, Stringham led the charge in creating a ceramic chess set with his Lasell University peers.

Peter Stringham, a Lasell Village resident, with the clay chess set created in an intergenerational ceramics class at Lasell University

Located on the first floor of Brennan Library, the finished ceramic chess board and pieces are available on the east side of the library.   What makes the set so unique -- apart from the nontraditional materials used -- is the way it was created. Stringham has always loved the design of chess pieces, and does not plan or outline his creativity. In Baldizar's class, Stringham used electricity and oil to morph clay into a bishop piece. Baldizar's experienced eye saw an opportunity for more.

"I took on her challenge and worked with my classmates and other peers [at Lasell Village] to create the entire set," said Stringham.  

"The approach was to go fast without planning so that the pieces would come out distorted, raw, and original. Our main focus was to create unity, as opposed to the division traditionally seen on a chess board," he said.  

A closer look at the pieces reveals social awareness through hashtags, such as #MeToo or #Peace, and a visually diverse representation of the multicultural cast who helped create the set.   

Ceramic chess pieces created by Peter Stringham, a Lasell Village resident, in an intergenerational course at Lasell University Ceramic chess pieces created by Peter Stringham, a Lasell Village resident, and classmates in an intergenerational course at Lasell University

"Folks of unique abilities including a blind resident, an artist, and a carpenter were all contributors to the final product, and that shows up in each piece's characteristics and origin story," said Stringham.  

The RoseMary B. Fuss Center on Aging and Intergenerational Studies sponsored materials for the completed project, and Stringham found a strong supporter in President Michael B. Alexander, who also enjoys playing chess.  

"The pieces are there to amuse players. Don't be afraid to damage them -- they are not as delicate as they look," said Stringham.  

Baldizar's class is one of several involved in Lasell University and Lasell Village's intergenerational programming initiatives, designed to bring Lasell students and lifelong learners at Lasell Village under one classroom roof. Professor and Director of the Fuss Center Joann Montepare leads the initiative.