Studio Life


Ceramics at KCAI

Ross Redmon, sophomore in the ceramics department, talks about the ceramics department at KCAI.

Ceramics at KCAI

Cary Esser, professor and chair of the ceramics department at KCAI, talks about the college's ceramic program.

New and noteworthy programs in the ceramics department

KCAI special status student program
Students who seek advanced experience in ceramic art but who are not working towards an undergraduate degree may apply for enrollment in the KCAI special status student program. These students enter KCAI with the intent to strengthen their portfolios for application to a premier graduate school or to refine their skills and qualifications for other professional positions. Special status students work under the guidance of a ceramics faculty member, participate in departmental critiques and attend a professional practice seminar.
Study-abroad program - Journey to the East: Chinese Art, Culture and Ceramics

Our journey will begin with a stay in Shanghai, exploring the city for four days before we venture on to Jingdezhen.  Shanghai is a vibrant cultural center of China, embracing its past as well as its present. This port city, located on the Huangpo River, has a long history but became known for the influx of Western culture in the early part of the 20th century leading to the city’s nickname, “Paris of the East.” From the mansions, social clubs and cathedrals built by westerners to the ancient temples, gardens and residences of old China, Shanghai displays is a distinctive blend of cultures. Students will learn of Shanghai’s cultural and artistic past through visits to the 400-year old Yuyuan Garden, the 3rd century Jing’an Temple and Qibao Ancient Town (established during the Northern Song Dynasty, 960-1127), which provides insights into China’s cricket culture and famous shadow puppet theater. In the second leg of the trip we will travel to Jingdezhen, China, the “porcelain capital of the world,” where ceramics have been produced for about 2,000 years. While there, students will participate in a two-week “hands on” studio program located in the Education Center at The Pottery Workshop. The Pottery Workshop is an International Residency organization that hosts artists, students and teachers to experience life in Jingdezhen while producing art, specifically ceramics. The program provides accommodations for students to explore traditional Chinese methods and materials within the scope of a personalized studio practice. Learn more.

Study-abroad program - International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemet, Hungary
This study-abroad course offers students the chance to experience living and working in Central Europe. Our home base for the trip is the International Ceramics Studio, a center that features comfortable lodgings and excellent studios with ample workspaces, numerous kilns and a mold-making facility. A special translucent porcelain clay is available for use. The studio museum houses an extensive international collection of contemporary works in clay, providing an excellent on-site study resource. Hungary has a long tradition of ceramics, from folk-art wares to the exquisite Art Nouveau luxury wares of Zsolnay and the fine porcelains of Herend. Extraordinary architectural ceramics are to be found on Hungarian buildings. Students see many fine examples of historic and architectural ceramics in Kecskemet, Budapest, Pecs and other cities we visit during this month-long course.

Kiln-formed glass course

The KCAI ceramics department offers a course in kiln-formed glass. This introductory and investigative class presents methods of forming and coloring glass: flat drawing, reverse relief casting and slumping. The course encourages innovative uses of the materials, processes and production of glass elements to be used in combination with ceramic and other media. 
McKeown Special Project Awards
The McKeown Special Project Award was created to fund special artistic and research projects in the KCAI ceramics department. Students may apply for research-based travel or to purchase materials and supplies supporting the creation of an otherwise cost-prohibitive artwork. The application process mimics that of professional grant writing, offering students a skill-building experience in writing proposals as well as the opportunity to advance their studio and research work.

PBS and NPR spotlight ceramics at KCAI

The KCAI ceramics department was featured in an Oct. 7, 2009, broadcast of “Craft in America” on PBS. The second hour of the two-hour program included a 10-minute segment about the strength of the KCAI ceramics program and featured interviews with Cary Esser (’78 ceramics), chair of the department; Professor George Timock; and several KCAI students and alumni. 

Laura Spencer of KCUR-FM Radio, Kansas City's National Public Radio affiliate, interviewed "Craft in America" producer Carol Sauvion, creator and co-executive producer of the award-winning "Craft in America" series, about the second season of the series. Listen to the interview.


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