BFA Art: Concentration in Ceramics

Investigating utilitarian pottery, figurative sculpture and conceptual installations.

Ceramic Art refers to anything made from clay and fired. In our program we encourage a wide array of investigations from utilitarian pottery to figure sculpture to conceptual installations. Beginning with a technical primer in the major forming methods (pinch, coil, slab, wheel throwing) and a wide array of shop glazes and slips, students are introduced to the many possibilities of ceramic art in historical and contemporary contexts. At the intermediate level, students learn more advance process of mold making and slip casting, and the technical aspects of working in clay, such as clay and glaze formulation, kiln building, and firing. Advanced students work with instructors to chart their own individual course. At this level, students share in the operation of the studio, loading and firing kilns, developing and mixing glazes, and leading as stewards of the community through the Mudslingers student organization.


Ceramics Facilities Image


  • We are constantly improving our studio to offer our students the most comprehensive experience possible in ceramics.

    General Equipment & Resources

    • 15 pottery wheels
    • Slab roller
    • Extruder
    • Ball Mill
    • Private storage space
    • Student assistants

    Fully Stocked Glaze Lab

    • State-of-the-art ventilation
    • Large spray booth
    • Large quantity of shop glazes, slips, and surface options for all temperature ranges
    • We stock all major materials for mixing custom batches of clay and glazes
    • We supply all safety equipment

    Ventilated Indoor Kiln Room

    • 5 Electric kilns varying in size
    • Computer-controlled large Paragon 11 cubic foot oval kiln
    • Two computer-controlled L&L Easy-Fire 7 Cubic foot kilns
    • Computer-controlled Skutt 5 cubic foot kiln
    • A small manual 1 cubic foot test kiln

    Outdoor Kiln Pad

    • Bluebird clay mixer
    • Large Vaccuum Peter Pugger
    • Bailey Vaccuum Pugmill
    • Large Olympic 30 Cubic foot gas kiln
    • Small student-built 5 cubic foot gas kiln
    • 20 cubic foot soda kiln
    • Raku kiln
    • Two pit-fire barrels

Key Courses

  • > Download Curriculum Checksheet BFA Studio Arts

    ART 3120: Ceramics I
    In this introductory course, students learn the basics of building forms, decorating, glazing and firing ceramic works. Projects are based on technical skills in handbuilding (pinch, coil, slab, joining) and wheel throwing. A brief exploration of historical and contemporary ceramics is built into the course.

    ART 3360: Wheelthrowing
    A full semester dedicated to wheelthrowing, trimming, and joining parts is necessary to gain proficiency at this challenging process. Projects are open-ended interpretations of pottery form, function, and decoration. Students gain experience with oxidation/reduction, soda, and low-fire majolica glazing techniques. This course includes an intro to mixing glaze tests.

    ART 3380: Moldmaking and Slipcasting
    Slipcasting is a process in which liquid clay is poured into plaster molds. As the plaster absorbs the moisture, the clay forms a lining in the mold. Once a desired thickness has accumulated, the slip is poured out, leaving a perfect copy. This course is dedicated to the making of plaster molds to achieve various results from concept-based sculpture to pottery production. An introduction to Computer Aided Design(CAD) is included, and 3D printing using out Formlabs SLA 3D printer.

    Special Topics: Technical Ceramics
    This course, offered every fourth semester, focuses on the science behind ceramic art. A combination of geology, geography, minerology, and chemistry, this course combines lectures and hands-on experiments in clay and glaze formulation. Additionally, kiln design, kiln building, and firing theory is covered through the designing, building, and firing of a new kiln for the studio.

    ART 4360: Advanced Study in Ceramics
    This course is taken 3 times with increasing levels of independence and self-direction each semester. By mixing students just beginning to find their artistic voice in clay with those preparing to graduate, a dynamic atmosphere is created. Students are free to choose the formats and process they are interested in and design their own projects. Group critiques are held a few times throughout the semester.

Admission to Concentration

  • It is important that students interested in applying to the Ceramics concentration talk to the faculty advisors of the area. The office hours are posted on the Faculty Web Page.

    Jeff Campana
    Office: VA101D

    Keith Smith
    Office: VA234

    Once a BFA, “art-interest” student has completed the Lower-Division Major Requirements and while enrolled in the second course in ceramics, he or she will submit a portfolio of work in that area for review by the supervising faculty. Students may apply to more than one concentration area, or apply to a second concentration later in their course of study. Admission into any concentration area is dependent upon the strength of the student’s portfolio, their performance in visual arts courses, and their overall academic performance in all classes taken. Each application to the concentration in ceramics must include the following:

    1. A minimum of six pieces of work including the following:

    • Three using ceramics as the primary media
    • Three representing at least two other three-dimensional media
    • Each piece must have two images that best describe the piece in the round (six pieces - twelve images).
    • Students may submit additional works if they wish (up to 10 pieces)
    • Images should be uploaded as JPEGs with height and width pixel dimensions no smaller than 400 pixels and no larger than 2000 pixels. (Images should approximately fill the screen at a sharp resolution but not be so large to cause slower upload/download speed.) Ceramic works should be photographed with good lighting and a clean background -- preferably black from the top fading to gray at the bottom.

    2. An image inventory list in MS Word format that includes the following information:

    • Title of work
    • Dimensions (height, width, and depth)
    • Medium
    • Year work was made

    If an artwork was created for a class assignment, applicants should indicate for which class it was created and write a brief description of the assignment; if it was not for a class, indicate it as an, “original work.”


Community and Alumni Success Stories

The ceramics room is the place where the lights are always on! We have a course in Technical Ceramics (materials used) where students will create their own clay and glaze. In another class students will design hands-on building of a (kiln future class) through the knowledge learned by the investigation of all the individual materials synthesized in ceramics and specialized for clay and glaze recipes.

Advanced Study in Ceramics
Individual students self-directed study with group critiques, which may include independant student research.

Advanced Studying Ceramics Individual students self-directed study