Alfred University News

Alfred University well represented at virtual NCECA Conference

Alfred University will be well represented at next week’s 2021 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Conference, with scores of alumni, faculty, and students participating in the five-day event.


Alfred University will be well represented at next week’s 2021 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Conference, with scores of alumni, faculty, and students participating in the five-day event.

“Rivers, Reflections, Reinventions,” NCECA’s first-ever virtual conference, will be held March 17-21 in Cincinnati, OH. The conference will include several lectures and speaker presentations, panel discussions, demonstrations, student critiques and exhibitions—all accessible online. Register here.

In addition to the lectures, panel discussions, presentations, and demonstrations, the 2021 NCECA Conference will also host several exhibitions. Ninety-four Alfred University alumni, students, and faculty and staff are participating in 20 exhibitions.

“Alfred University’s School of Art and Design and the New York State College of Ceramics’ impact on ceramic research, scholarship and education is far reaching since our beginning in 1900,” remarked Lauren Lake, dean of the School of Art and Design at Alfred University. “We continue to be a thriving center for the study of ceramics today through contemporary art practice and our ceramic engineering program. We are proud and honored to showcase our international reach through the annual NCECA conference—an opportunity not only to highlight our program but to engage with others who promote creation of new knowledge in, through, and about ceramics.”

Malcolm Mobutu Smith (MFA 1996) is one of two jurors for the Juried Student Exhibition. Smith is a professor of ceramic at Indiana University. The cornerstone exhibition for the NCECA Conference, the Juried Student Exhibition is open to students in higher education programs throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Seven current students and alumni of Alfred University’s School of Art and Design will have their work included in the exhibition.

“Social Recession- 2021 NCECA Annual Exhibition” curated by Shannon Rae Stratton, is a blended invitational and juried exhibition. Emily Duke (MFA 2016), Jacob Reader (BFA 2008) (with Layla Marcelle), Kate Roberts (BFA 2010, MFA 2015) and Katheryn Shroeder (BFA 2005) all have work shown in this exhibition.

The conference will host the 24th Annual National K-12 Ceramic Exhibition—the premier annual juried ceramic competition for Kindergarten through Grade 12 students in the United States—from which Alfred University awards five scholarships each year. Designed to highlight outstanding creativity with clay by school aged youth, the exhibition takes place in a different city each year in conjunction with the NCECA Conference. Alfred University’s Val Cushing Memorial Scholarship provides full tuition while the other four—the Wallace C Higgins Memorial Scholarship, Marion L. Fosdick Memorial Scholarship, Theodore A. Randall Memorial Scholarship, and William D. Parry Memorial Scholarship—each pay 90 percent of tuition.

Alfred University alumni Nuriel Stern (MFA 2014), Ruth Easterbrook (MFA 2019) and Jinsik Yoo (MFA 2019) were all selected as NCECA Emerging Artists, meaning three of the 12 Emerging Artist honorees were from Alfred University. Stern, Easterbrook, and Yoo will each give lectures during the conference.

The following lectures and presentations will feature Alfred University alumni and faculty:

“Unearthings: The Artists as Occult Technician”—Emerging Artist Nurielle Stern (MFA 2014), Wednesday, March 17, 12:30-2 p.m. Stern creates immersive installations combining ceramics with other media, including video projection. Her recent work, “Fable,” was commissioned by the Gardiner Museum, Toronto.

“Blooms: Everyday Celebrations”—Emerging Artist Ruth Easterbrook (MFA 2019), Wednesday, March 17, 12:30-2 p.m. Sharing influences and processes that are intertwined with pottery, Easterbrook’s presentation will give insight into pots and floral motifs that combine discovery, loss, and resilience. As a potter, Easterbrook reflects on relationships with people, places, and the everyday objects as participants of sharing and coming together.

 “Glaze Doctors” (panel discussion)—Bruce Dehnert (MFA 1991), Matthew Katz (MFA 2000), and William Carty, emeritus professor, materials science and engineering, Wednesday, March 17, 2:15-3:15 p.m. This panel provides answers/guidance/suggestions on problems associated with glaze and glazing.

“Art Making as Spiritual Practice” (panel discussion)—Paul Briggs (MSEd, art education, 1992), Wednesday, March 17, 3-4 p.m. Have you had seemingly spiritual experiences in the studio? Manipulating clay, a sort of primordial mud, requires mindfulness. Briggs will discuss the connection between art making and spiritual practice.

“Strategies for Bridging Identity and Politics in Clay Communities” (panel discussion)—Paul Briggs (MSEd, art education, 1992), Thursday, March 18, 1:30-2:30 p.m. This discussion addresses divisions that many ceramicists perceive in their practice that stem from wider issues in society, politics, fine art and academe. Briggs is one of five ceramic artists of diverse backgrounds who will speak about their perspectives on gaining recognition, acceptance, and understanding through their own work and approaching the wider clay community.

“The Alfred Archives: Mindfulness and Memory, Connecting the Dots” (short form discussion)—John Hosford (BFA 1989), visual resources coordinator, Scholes Library, Alfred University, Thursday, March 18, 4-5 p.m. As archivist for the College of Ceramics Archives, Hosford began to question himself (and others), “What do we need to start collecting now for the questions that come 100 years from now?” Share in the joy in finding the answer as well as fears that we will not.

“Clay Uncloseted: The Swashbuckling Ceramics of Sascha Brastoff” (lecture)—Garth Johnson (MFA 2000), Friday, March 19, 12:15-12:45 p.m. The pioneering queer icon Sascha Brastoff (1918-1993) appeared in a major motion picture and won a top award at the 1948 Ceramic National, yet remains almost unknown outside the sphere of California ceramic collectors. In conjunction with an upcoming retrospective of the artist’s work at the Everson Museum of Art, this presentation will demonstrate Brastoff’s contributions to a new generation of artists.

“Crystal Clear: Understanding Crystalline Chemistry” (lecture)—Matthew Katz (MFA 2000), Friday, March 19, 12:15-1:15 p.m. This lecture will explore the chemistry of crystalline glazes.

“Clay Doctors” (panel discussion)—Matt Kelleher, assistant professor of ceramic art, Brad Evan Taylor (MFA 1992), and William Carty, emeritus professor, materials science and engineering, Friday, March 19, 4-5 p.m. The panel will provide answers/guidance/suggestions on problems associated with clay bodies, forming, and firing.

“Artist as Director” (lecture)—Ayumie Horie (BFA 1996), Saturday, March 20, 12:15-1:15 p.m. The boom in video- and photo-making online has deeply affected how ceramic artists make, learn, promote, and run successful businesses. This presentation features makers who bring the same craftsmanship and creativity to video as they do to clay.

“Written in Clay: Subtexts, Power, and Ambiguity” (panel discussion)—Bobby Silverman (MFA 1983), Saturday, March 20, 12:15-1:15 p.m. Panelists examine the essence and function of words through ceramic forms, and the role of ambiguity, influence, and process in language, and potential pathways to connection and disconnection.

“Clay Fab Lab Boolean Union: Physical and Digital Learning” (presentation)—Audrey An (BFA 2017), Saturday, March 20, 1:30-3:15 p.m. How do the new generation of artists that emerged from ceramic programs with multifaceted digital teaching and practices create their work? This presentation will explore what it means to learn within such programs that are seeking new ways to explore clay and digital technologies.

“Shape of 49%”—2021 Emerging Artist Jinsik Yoo (MFA 2019), Sunday, March 21, 1-2:30 p.m. Yoo aims to disrupt binary classifications of people through figurative sculpture and installation.