Henning finds second career in sculpture, pottery

Thu, 2006-11-16 16:24 -- univcomm
November 16, 2006

A walk around the Henning house is like a walk through an art museum. Paintings adorn the walls. Sculptures rise from the floor. And every room and every shelf features a diverse collection of pottery — the vast majority of which was made by Jerry Henning BS ’65 himself.

His creations include large, bulbous pots, square-shaped pots, free-standing figurines, and many other creative designs, all glazed with attractive colors — some subtle, some bold. He has incorporated natural elements into many of his designs. One pot, for example, is ringed with fossil-like stalks of pampas grass that were pressed into the side of the clay. Each piece gives evidence to Henning’s careful attention to design and quality workmanship.

Henning’s experience with pottery began at Anderson University as a student under the instruction of Dr. Robert Youngman — but it was dormant throughout his professional life in architectural design, until in 1994 he signed up for a continuing education course in pottery at Ball State University. He enjoyed the experience so much he has repeated the course a number of times since then.

Henning inherited his creative talents from both parents. His mother, Marion, created ads for publication in newspapers in Logansport and Huntington, Ind. His father, Arthur B. Henning, was an architect whose company designed Park Place Church of God as well as a number of buildings at AU — Morrison Hall, Krannert Fine Arts Center, and Bennett Natatorium, to name just a few.

“It seemed like I was almost born with a pencil in hand,” Henning says. “I was drawing or sketching something all the time.”

From an early age, Henning was inclined toward architecture. By the time he was 8 years old, he was accompanying his dad on the job. It was assumed that Henning would one day work for his father — an assumption that Henning discovered when applying to work for a local manufacturer.

“I had filled out an application to go to work for Guide Lamp,” he recalls, “and my dad decided I was not going to be an assembly line worker and threw it in the trash. So that was the end of that.”

Henning had already gained a good measure of skill and experience in architecture when he began his college education in 1957. He spent his first year at Hanover College, then transferred to Ball State University before finally settling in at AU in 1960, where he pursued a double major in business and art.

“I majored in two conflicting areas,” he says. “But when you get into the field of architecture, you’re designing and you’re an insurance man and a lawyer and a business person. You do it all. So, for me, it was not particularly an unusual combination.”

After graduation, Henning and his wife, Joene, settled in Muncie, Ind., and Henning continued working in his father’s company until 1982, when he took a job with a manufacturing company in Muncie and worked there for 10 years. Jerry then worked in the facilities department at Ball State University, followed by six years at Smitty’s, a clothing store in the Village near Ball State. He retired in 2002.

This spring, Jerry had the opportunity to showcase his pottery at Gordy’s Art and Framing in downtown Muncie. Among those who attended that memorable event were lifelong friends Dr. Stanley Stephens BA ’65, Christie (Smith) Stephens BA ’65, Ronald Clark BA ’64, and Dr. Sandra Stephens Clark BS ’64. —Randy Dillinger

— Randy Dillinger [Signatures, Fall 2006]