Alfred University News

Alfred University student awarded Fulbright grant; second student named semi-finalist

The U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announces that recent Alfred University graduate Chelsea McMaster has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award to Antigua and Barbuda for the 2024-25 academic year.

McMaster, who received an M.F.A. in ceramic art during Alfred’s University’s commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 11, will study the practice of creating African-influenced and inspired pottery in the Caribbean nation. A second Alfred University graduate, Heidi Mortensen, was named a semi-finalist for a Fulbright award.

She becomes the 18th Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant winner from Alfred University in the last 47 years and the first since Taylor Jaczko in 2018. For her Fulbright project — “Wadadli Folk: A People's History of Afro Antiguan Pottery” — McMaster will work with and learn from Hyacinth Hillhouse and Edith Lyne, makers of traditional Antiguan pottery, at Seaview Farm Village, Antigua and Barbuda.

“I strive to both preserve and expand traditional Antiguan pottery and the stories and memories that live in and through this material practice. As with many cultural wisdoms of historically oppressed peoples, this cultural legacy lives only in the minds and hands of the women who practice them,” McMaster wrote in her Statement of Grant Purpose to the Fulbright Commission. “Hyacinth Hillhouse and Edith Lyne are the last Antiguans who carry this traditional skillset. These women are from a line of female heritage potters who use West African influenced making practices that trace back to the 17th century.”

With the support of the Fulbright Program, McMaster—who was born in the United States and grew up in Antigua—will learn from Hillhouse and Lyne while documenting their making methods and oral histories. The project will culminate in a group exhibition, “Wadadli Folk,” with the support of the Antigua and Barbuda Museum.

Mortensen, who received her M.F.A. in sculpture/dimensional studies on Saturday, applied for an award to Germany. She proposed to research the integration of recent immigrants into German society and create sculptural works responding to the stories and memories of their homeland, as well as their experiences as they attempt to forge connections to a new country. She has been awarded a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.

McMaster and Mortensen began working on their Fulbright applications last spring, assisted by Alfred University’s Fulbright Program Committee and members of the Alfred University faculty. Paul Briggs, assistant professor of ceramics, Meghen Jones, associate professor of art history, and Adero Willard, former visiting assistant professor of ceramic art, wrote letters of recommendation on McMasters’ behalf; Rebecca Arday, assistant professor of glass, Coral Lambert, professor of sculpture, and Mary McInnes, former professor of art history, wrote letters supporting Mortensen’s application.

The applications were submitted to the Fulbright Committee last October and the students were notified of the award status this month. Ellen Bahr, a librarian at Herrick Library, is Alfred University’s Fulbright Program advisor. She and Laura Johnson, director of education abroad, Andrew Kless, professor of history and global studies, William Wheeler, assistant professor of sculpture, and Scott Misture, Inamori Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, make up Alfred University’s Fulbright Program Committee.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. federal government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Participating governments, host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The Program, established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas operates in over 160 countries worldwide.