Board Bio – Spotlight: Lee Burningham

Board Bio – Spotlight: Lee Burningham

Welcome Back, NCECA Blog Readers, to another episode of “meet the board”.  If you’re brand new to following the NCECA Blog, you may want to check out the previous board bio on Kansas City On-site, Paul Donnelly.  Today, I am delighted to tell you a little more about NCECA’s Treasurer, Lee Burningham.  I first met Lee almost 6 years ago, when I was running for Director-at-Large, and he was running for the then Secretary/Treasurer position (back then that role was filled by a single person!!!)  Immediately after the election, the bylaw change to separate those roles was also approved and Lee chose to fill the role of Treasurer.  He served a three year term and then was re-elected to a second term.  Finally, he is nearing the end of his time on the board as Treasurer.  I certainly have enjoyed not only his financial expertise, but also his love of, devotion to and deep history within this organization….also his hugs…Lee gives some of the BEST hugs!  His big personality will certainly be missed on our board next year!  Of course,I will also take this opportunity to remind everyone that if you are interested in serving the board and following in Lee’s footsteps, the deadline for NCECA Board applications was extended to September 23rd…(and it’s ok if you wear smaller shoes)  Now, on to Lee…

Where do you currently live/work?

I have spent the last two months frantically moving from my last pipeline project in SE Iowa back to my new home in Monticello, in SE Utah. Also moving out of, cleaning, and prepping for sale my former residence and pottery studio in northern Utah. imagejpeg_0-5Only 15000+ miles in the last two months hauling load after load of studio and household goods from one end of the state to the other, 400+ miles each way. I now live in Monticello, Utah, middle of all the best scenery and national parks in the US. I am settling in to a new residence, a 100 year old hotel on the National Historic Register, and beginning to shuffle through the hodge-podge mess created by moving and starting to set up the kilns, the studio, and begin playing in clay again.

What do you like most about your job? OR  What do you like most about where you live?

 20150828_122707Give me a building project, a renovation project, throw in some pottery time, building a new studio and set it all in the middle of the best and most diverse scenery in the entire world and I’m a happy camper. Due to the drop in oil prices and a general slow down in pipeline activity, I am unemployed as a Right of Way land agent. It only means I am a full-time Colleen employee with a long list of honey-do’s for our preparation for a 100 year anniversary celebration for the Hyland Hotel next July. Come join the celebration! I’m enjoying everything about working on this historic home except for the bruises and lumps on my head from running into very low hanging pipes and beams in the short basement.

20150420_193412-1The things I like best about where I live are way too numerous to mention individually. I could briefly mention the central location to more national parks and exotic scenery than anywhere else on earth. Small town friendliness. Great weather. Best golf course in several surrounding states. Destination locations like Moab, Durango, Telluride only a short drive away. You would have to take some serious time to catalog everything possible to see and do within two hours drive time of Monticello. Lots of gallery space to fill with pottery in Moab!


“Little Man” Lee Burningham

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in northern Utah, the Salt Lake City area. The family moved out to a farm SE of Salt Lake while I was beginning my junior year in high school. I had been briefly introduced to clay while in Holladay but dove into pottery with enthusiasm out in Sandy. It has contaminated my life ever since! LOL

What was your childhood nickname?

 Which one? Little Man because I looked and acted so grown up while still a very young child? Leaping Lee because of my jumping ability on the basketball court blocking shots and dunking the ball?

 How did you first find out about NCECA?


Lee Burningham & John Neely, NCECA 2014

John Neely and the ceramics program at USU, Logan, Utah, introduced me to NCECA while I was taking graduate classes while on sabbatical. It sounded interesting and entertaining. How little did I realize how much it would influence my teaching, my production, and my career paths.

Tell me a story about your first conference (including city and/or year).

I heard all the stories about NCECA from the other students and John Neely after they returned from NCECA. It fired up my enthusiasm to attend the next year after I was once again in a classroom setting in Monticello, Utah. I took a student along with me to the conference in Tempe , Arizona and we were both totally enthralled with the excitement, the energy, and the camaraderie of the conference. It was a life changing experience for both me and my high school student. He has commented more than once over the years about the road trip to Tempe to hang out with all those crazy potters! It provided wonderful experiences for me as a teacher and for Richey as a student that set the tone for me bringing literally hundreds of students to NCECA over the past 25 years.

 What’s your favourite color?

Good question! Are we talking pots, clothes, eye color, skies, or vegetation? In the US or, based on the spelling, any of the former British Empire colonies or homelands? Black is good. Shino ought to be its own color universe. Anything with wood ash.

What or who inspired you to get involved more deeply in the organization, and what was your “entry point”to the board?


The K-12 Show Crew: Leah Schlief-Freese, Nancy Ernst, Glen Frick, Lee Burningham, Bob Feder, Nicole DuBrow, Suzanne Conine, NCECA 2014

There was a point in time when Bob Feder, Leah Schlief and myself were told that NCECA is a member driven organization and if we really wanted a k-12 presence at NCECA then we ought to make it happen ourselves. We did. We were told later to go play in our own sandbox and stay away from the real potters, artists, and suppliers and sponsors of NCECA. We dug in our heels and we didn’t go away.

My entry point into considering running for and participating as a member of the NCECA Board was the multiple requests by members of NCECA that recognized the work that had been accomplished by Bob Feder, Leah Schlief and myself for the National K-12 Ceramics Exhibition Foundation and tap some of that energy and focus into Board service during a time of Board turmoil and divisiveness. Multiple positions came available at the same time. I ran for Secretary Treasurer with the thought I would be able to use my background and skills set to make the most difference from this position. I ran from the floor, not as a Board recommended candidate, nominated by Val Cushing, and won the election against the Board nominee. I hope my aspirations of making a difference have been realized at least in part.

 Describe your position with NCECA

I am the Treasurer of NCECA. In the years before Josh Green was hired as the Executive Director, my position largely entailed the development and oversight of a cohesive and coherent annual budget that funded the annual conference as well as the ancillary programs sponsored by NCECA. I was also the direct oversight officer of the NCECA investments and responsible for investment strategies and fund management with the very capable help of Helen Anderson. Members of the Board can remember the hours, days and weeks spent in phone calls to bring the budget together the first two years of my tenure.

Josh Green as Executive Director has lightened the Treasurer load considerably. The budget process begun by Helen Anderson and myself has been tweaked and improved to a fine tuned process overseen on a continuing basis by Josh Green and maintained by Helen Anderson. My primary duties now consist of reviewing the monthly financials, following the market as impacting the investment notes, and maintaining the financial growth and stability of NCECA through regularly scheduled Finance committee conference calls and occasional personal calls to Catherine Clark, the Merrill Lynch financial advisor supervising the NCECA investment accounts.

Knowing and understanding the budget process is a must for this position. Good grasp of numbers and investment strategies is highly recommended. Previous experience as a budget developer and manager is a tremendous step in the right direction. Knowledge of tax law relating to foundations and non-profits is a distinct advantage. Then be prepared for working with highly motivated individuals in an exciting arena including every aspect of the ceramic arts!

What’s your favourite thing about being on the board?

 I absolutely love the association with the entire NCECA membership, knowing I am working for the good of the members, the good of ceramics throughout the world, increasing the available education and exposure to ceramics, and paying back a little of the wonderful opportunities made available to me through NCECA in the past.

What’s your favorite part of your specific position?

 The interaction with everyone at the annual conferences is my favorite part of this position. Knowing I helped make each conference come to fruition.

 Who are some of your mentors, and how have they shaped you as a person/artist? (both in and out of the organization/field)

The man that hired me for my first public schools teaching position, half day art, half day math, Dale B. Maughan, back in 1980 told me to take the supposed art program at Monticello High School and turn it into a “real ART program”. Dale then provided the necessary funding to get it started and then stood back to let it grow. Mr Dale B. Maughan, just recently deceased, was the catalyst behind many successful teachers by providing a vision to accomplish, the means and basis to begin, and then getting out of the way to see the goal unfold.

val-cushingVal Cushing was a tremendous influence long before I ever set eyes on the man. His book, his teaching outline, his personal gift to education has been tremendously influential in my teaching career as a pottery teacher.

Thanos Johnson. Greek potter. Served with the 10th Mountain Division. Marin College pottery professor. Heavily influenced by his time with Shoji Hamada in the 1970’s. The Oriental aesthetic was brought home to me and my entire pottery program when Thanos began to utilize my high school students as summer apprentices at his summer studio in Marble, Colorado beginning in the mid 1990’s.

3081tOtto and Vivika Heino. The Heino’s invited me to bring eleven of my students to visit and assist at their April sale in the early 1990’s. The opportunity to sit, talk, share pottery ideas with the students and both Otto and Vivika was phenomenal. Working the sale during the days and early evenings opened up to discussion around the dinner table after the gates were closed.The visit by the Grande Dame of Ceramics herself, Beatrice Wood, was icing on the cake for all of us.

Tell me about your work as an artist.

My work in clay varies from the purely functional through to the abstracted and sculptural. Too eclectic to fit neatly into any pigeonhole in my life and in my artistry.

What’s your favourite ice cream flavor?

Anything chocolate with nuts in it and a healthy serving of rainbow sherbet over the top.

If you were a glaze, which one would you be and why?

 I would be a large bucket of Malcolm Davis’ Carbon Trap Shino!!!!!  I love the variability. The colors, the depth of color and the tremendous range of effects all change under different atmospheric conditions. Same with different glaze thicknesses, proximity to the flames, and the reactions to any and all other glazes layered over or under the shino glaze. The variability of Malcolm’s glaze reflects well the variability and range of interests and activities found in my own life.

What are a few of your hobbies?

imagejpeg_0 Construction, building anything from houses to studios, new construction to renovating 150 year old barns into studio and gallery space.

Making pottery and teaching ceramics skills to “newbies”.

 Anything football!!

Phantastic Phriday:  Announcing the NCECA Dance Band

Phantastic Phriday: Announcing the NCECA Dance Band

First off, here’s the official word:

The Phantastics are a seven member band from Kansas City specializing in tantalizing, genre-blending dance floor activators. In 2015, the music group was crowned “Kansas City’s best party band” by the Kansas City Star. But “party” doesn’t encompass the range in which The Phantastics reign. Musicianship and diversity are at the core of their success. Expect to hear Rock, Rap, Dance, Funk, Jazz and Soul all incorporated into a seamless, winding river of music. “The band that can do it all”, according to I Heart Local Music, has shared the stage with some of music’s most legendary acts including George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic. The Phantastics were formed in December of 2010 and have been trying to save live music ever since.

And now the inside scoop from your Communications Director and local music lover:

george_clinton_02_t460If you follow me personally on Facebook, you may have already seen my “coming attraction” pic of this extremely popular and sought-after local band.  The Phantastics recently rocked Lawrence at the Free State Festival in June as they opened for Funk Legend, George Clinton.  The street in front of the Lawrence Arts center was shut down to traffic and people packed in to listen to & jam with the music.  As their name implies, they were indeed, Phantastic…High-energy entertainment merged with an excellent mix of sound and some serious powerhouse musicians.

While standing in the Lawrence Arts Center before the show began, I was chatting with a friend who introduced me to another woman standing with her.  We chatted about clay for quite a bit after our mutual friend connected our interests.  Of course, I told her about NCECA, and she was very excited to hear it was coming to Kansas City.  Toward the end of our conversation, I discovered she was engaged (now recently married) to the band’s lead male vocalist, and she was kind enough to introduce me to him.  They LOVE to play for crowds that like to dance, he told me….

“oh, we like to dance!!!!”,       I replied

…throw in a little magic, and BOOM, they’re our band!  I can’t wait to share this amazing group with my clay family.  They’ll be jammin’ at the JazzHaus here in the fall, and I’ll be sure to warm them up for y’all!  SO BE SURE TO BE THERE Friday night, March 18, 2016, and be ready to rock it!

Thank you for your Vote, NCECA Members!!!

Thank you for your Vote, NCECA Members!!!

In case you missed the memo from NCECA in your email, here it is:

NCECA recently shared that a vote on bylaws amendments put before the membership had failed to reach a quorum as of June 30, 2015. We are pleased to announce that after re-opening the ballot using a link sent to members who had not yet voted, as of this past Wednesday, we have surpassed the required quorum of 385 votes cast. Combining the votes cast prior to the initial deadline of June 30, with those cast in the second ballot, Amendment 7.7.A carries with 631 in favor, 79 opposed, 31 abstaining; and, Amendment 7.8.A carries with 624 in favor, 84 opposed and 35 abstaining. The Nominations Committee will continue to solicit recommendations from the membership and review all candidates’ qualifications. Passage of these amendments makes the process of appointment of all Executive Committee positions on NCECA’s Board of Directors uniform. This year, the Nominations Committee will recommend NCECA’s next Treasurer and next President Elect for appointment. Each will be subject to 2/3-majority vote of approval by the Board of Directors. The next Secretary will be identified through the same process when that position requires a new appointment. Directors at Large and Student Directors at Large will continue to stand for election by the membership.

I really do want to thank you all for taking the time to vote, whether it was in the initial period or the re-opened vote.  So please, give yourselves a round of applause!  What began as a vote with too low of a turnout to even count became perhaps the highest turnout in the history of NCECA votes (Please note – this is an unofficial, unverified statement/guess on my part).  It sincerely warms my heart to see members taking an interest in the governance of this organization….which makes a nice segueway into reminding you all that the Nominations Committee is looking for great people who are interested in joining in the fun of making decisions on behalf of the membership.  I, personally have been honored to be able to serve the organization for the last 5 1/2 years.  It has been a rewarding and life-changing experience for me.  You can self-nominate, or put forward someone you think would be great.  The nominations committee will then go through all candidates, and then forward names to the board.  Up for election are Director-at-Large (3 year term) and Student Director-at-Large (2 year term).  These are great entry points to the board.  The nominations committee is also looking for recommendations for two appointed positions, Treasurer (3 year term, renewable for one additional 3 year term) and President-Elect (6 year cycle – 2 years as president elect, 2 as president, 2 as past president).   If you have any questions about being on the board, please don’t hesitate to contact a current or past board member for insight.  When I first received the call asking if I was interested, the very next call *I* made was to Glenda Taylor, and I would be happy to pass along that expertise to anyone else interested!

Rachel Garceau Workshop Streaming Live From Texas Tech University

Rachel Garceau Workshop Streaming Live From Texas Tech University

NCECA 2015 Emerging Artist, Rachel Garceau is teaching a workshop on mold making and slip casting hosted by the Texas Tech University Ceramics Department! On Thursday September 16, 2015 the Ceramics Department at TTU, with Rachel’s generous consent, will be streaming the demonstrations live from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm central time. There is no cost to attend and all are encouraged to share the information with their friends and colleagues. Streaming via projector for classes is encouraged! To watch the feed go to:


Rachel K. Garceau is an installation artist, primarily working in porcelain, currently living in Atlanta, GA. She was chosen as one of the Emerging Artists at NCECA 2015 in Providence, RI and has been exhibiting her work across the country and internationally. Garceau has been able to work with great programs such as Penland School of Craft, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. We at TTU are incredibly excited to have such an enthusiastic and talented artist working with out students and facilitating growth in our community through clay! For more information on Rachel and her work, please see the links below.

Texas Tech University located in Lubbock, TX has a cutting edge ceramics department with internationally known faculty Lydia Thompson, Juan Granados and Von Venhuizen. TTU Ceramics has a Bachelor of Fine Arts Program as well as a 3 year Masters of Fine Art Program. The program encourages inter-media working and self driven exploration of students art both technically and conceptually. The ceramics program has over 36 kilns including gas, electric, wood, soda and saggar. It also has a dedicated rooms for hand building, wheel throwing, glaze calculation and clay mixing. For more information about Texas Tech Ceramics or the TTU School of Art, please visit the website below.

This workshop has been coordinated by Nicolle LaMere with funds from the Helen Jones Foundation of Lubbock, the College of Visual and Performing Arts at TTU, and the Texas Tech Clay Club. Nicolle is a 2nd year graduate student at Texas Tech University, pursuing her Master’s Degree in Ceramics.


Tentative Itinerary:

9:00-10:30                   We’ll talk slip! We’ll cast all the molds, ALL THE MOLDS!

10:30-12:00                 Second half of a tricky branch mold.

1:00-Whenever         Stencil Deco’s, Project Assembly and some. . .   Play!



Student Slide Forum…redesigned

Student Slide Forum…redesigned

STblinc 20/20UDENTS – What can you share about your work, your process, or your research in just 7 minutes?

Student led presentations are now a regular feature of the annual NCECA conference program. Some years prior to today’s increased level of student presentation involvement, NCECA provided a dark room with seating and a projector known as the Student Slide Forum. It was a space where a few brave students made brief, somewhat informal image presentations to an audience composed primarily of other students. Some of you have expressed missing that opportunity as a place where unexpected connections and discoveries occurred.

This year in Kansas City, NCECA is launching blinc, a new programming concept, which you can read more about here. blinc is a forum to make fast-paced, engaging impressions through words and images This initiative is open to all NCECA members, both students of clay in universities and students of clay in life.

Students, we encourage you to present a body of work, a new process you have been working out, or an interesting research topic. Think of blinc as a great way to get your work out there, and to get some experience talking about it before a diverse audience.

Get your images together now and head to the blinc call for entry on the  NCECA website to submit your proposal!  But don’t delay, this opportunity ends on October 14, 2015!

Questions? Just ask!

Jennifer Chua, Student Director at Large –

Shalya Marsh, Student Director at Large –