The curriculum for the Ceramics major is designed to expose the student to a broad foundation of technical skills. The initial courses emphasize the investigation of various construction techniques used in the field of ceramic production, design, and sculpture. Students will become proficient with traditional forming processes as well as complex mold making and slip casting. At the upper level greater emphasis is placed on developing and refining the technical and conceptual aspects of each student’s work. Courses focus on glaze calculation, firing procedures, and the development of a personal philosophy toward the physical and social aspects of working with clay as an expressive medium and its relationship to the larger world of art. The Art and Design Department does not specify any one approach to the ceramic process, but rather organizes problems to allow the students to investigate and discover their personal approach to the medium. Senior BFA work in recent years has included utilitarian wheel-thrown pottery, slip-cast vessels, hand-built figurative work, large-scale sculpture, and ceramic installations.
In addition to the scheduled classes, the ceramic studio is available to all registered students during designated building hours. We offer a state-of the-art ceramic studio equipped with glaze lab, spray booth, twenty Brent electric wheels, a large slab roller, two extruders, two clay mixers, and a pug mill. We have a variety of kilns, including 6 electric kilns, two downdraft gas kilns (70 cu. ft and 50 cu. ft) and a soda kiln (50 cu. ft).
The studio space is designed to accommodate vessel making and sculptural work, tile production, and slip casting and mold making. The upper level students are provided with personal studio spaces. A year–round program of exhibition at the DeVos Art Museum supplemented by workshops and lectures by visiting artists, enhances the student access to an ongoing dialog with contemporary art. Recent visiting artists include Julia Galloway, Stephen DeStaebler, John Byrd, Keisuke Mizuno, Kurt Weiser and Akio Takamori.
The School of Art and Design consists of 19 full-time faculty who are practicing artists and designers, exhibiting their work at the regional, national, and international levels. Each instructs an area of specialization and they often teach our core courses as well.
The School of Art and Design offers the BFA, BA, BS, or AS degrees. Most students elect the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program (BFA), which includes 20 hours of specific ceramics classes, (additional work can be pursued by electing to use the Directed Studies series). As an incoming freshman, you would take AD 122 Ceramics: Hand-building Techniques.
As a graduate in Ceramics, students can pursue a career as an independent studio artist, teach, design, work within industrial application, as well as other possibilities within the ceramics field.