Recognition and Celebration in Claytopia | 2019 Awards and Honors

Recognition and Celebration in Claytopia | 2019 Awards and Honors

You know them as wise advisors, educators, innovators, clay cultural leaders, and individuals who embody generous spirits. The NCECA Awards and Honors recognize leaders in the field of ceramics for the their impact regionally, lifetime support of others, roles as educators, and outstanding projects. Each year we look for nominations for these recognitions, through an open call on the NCECA website (We’d love you to nominate someone for next year!). This year, the board voted to approve that ALL awardees and honorees receive lifetime memberships and conference passes to acknowledge the significant contributions each has made (those receiving awards in previous years also receive these benefits now). 

We hope you will join us when we recognize and celebrate this year’s Awardees and Honorees on

Friday, March 29th, 5:30-7:00pm, Auditorium Main, Minneapolis Convention Center!

For now, please read on to learn more about each award and to be introduced to each of our esteemed recipients.

Our special thanks to this year’s nomination committee for their thoughtful review of all nominees. 2019 Nominations Committee: Anna Calluori Holcombe, Marge Levy, Brandon Schnur, Lauren Sandler, Rhonda Willers (chair), Russell Wrankle

Regional Awards for Excellence

Honoring commitment and outstanding contributions to the ceramic arts or cultural life, the Regional Awards for Excellence annually recognize individuals in the local and extended regions of the conference host city. The recipients are nominated by the on-site conference liaisons and approved by the board of directors.

This year’s recipients are: Lyndel King, Warren MacKenzie (posthumous), and Em Swartout (posthumous).

Lyndel King | As the director and chief curator at the University of Minnesota’s Weisman Museum for 40 years, Lyndel King expanded not only the size of the collection, but also the square footage of the museum, and its national impact. Taking the Weisman museum from its narrow halls on the fourth floor of the Northrup Auditorium to the dynamic stainless steel and brick building designed by Frank Gehry, Lyndel’s leadership allowed the museum to emerge as one of the top teaching university museums in the country. 

From the very beginning, Lyndel promoted the need for a world-class university to have a world-class art museum on its campus. She has left a mark on the University of Minnesota’s campus that few other can claim. I got to be part of that process with her, and I can tell you that the Weisman Art Museum exists because of her indomitable spirit, her intelligence, and her perseverance.

-statement by Frank Gehry, architect of the Weisman Art Museum

Photo Credit: Rik Sferra

Warren MacKenzie (Posthumous) | Perhaps no name is more highly and respectfully associated with the American studio pottery movement and its inspirational resonance with the values of the Mingei movement than Warren MacKenzie’s. He did not seek this recognition or leadership; rather, he became it through his passion, dedication, and daily studio practice. Warren’s commitment to the creation of the “honest” pot inspired his students and makers across the region, throughout the United States, and extended to international communities.

In any culture, the needs of the people control the direction of their self-expression. In earlier times, people were directed by their need to find food and to survive. Later they developed belief systems, turning to religion or magic, concerned with gods and goddesses, myths, political power. Artistic expression became a way to support those beliefs, to oppose enemies, to strengthen the culture. I do not believe it is any different in our times.

-Warren MacKenzie, Regis Master lecture, 1997

Photo Credit: Personal Collection of Randy Johnston

Image Description: (Left to Right) Warren MacKenzie, Ken Matzuzaki (of Japan), Phil Rogers (of Wales), and Randy Johnston, 2008 Anagama Firing called “The Sleeping Pot”

Em Swartout (Posthumous) | Clarence Lee “Em” Swartout is known throughout the Twin Cities region and beyond as patriarch of the Continental Clay family. Since its founding as a family owned company, Continental Clay has focused on offering the widest selection of ceramic art and sculpting supplies with over 65,000 square feet dedicated to clay mixing, glaze production, research and development, and a retail store and gallery. Em Swartout never retired; staying involved in the lives of ceramic artists across the county. He loved artists and they loved him. In his effort to help and support others, he was very open about his 34 years of sobriety in AA. Em was comfortable with everyone he met and was willing to help anyone in need. Rambunctious and silly were the sides of Em his clay friends witnessed out in the community. But his warmth, compassion, humor, integrity, and generosity, too, were ever-present. 

Honorary Members

 Having contributed to the professional development of ceramic arts, Honorary Members positively influence and provide opportunities for others to rise. Often recognized for dedicating much of their lives supporting others, each honorary member is also a creative force and leader with their own artistic practice. 

This years recipients are: Doug Casebeer, Elaine Olafson Henry, and Winnie Owens-Hart.

Doug Casebeer | Doug Casebeer joined the Anderson Ranch Arts Staff, in 1985, as the Director of the Ceramics and Sculpture program. Since then he has shaped the Ranch into a premier summer workshop destination. Casebeer’s commitment to the idea that workshop instructors are be there as teacher alone and not technician, is a unique approach. It affords the instructors that space and energy necessary to be effective teachers and allows the gifted technical support staff to offer consistent quality to the work being produced during workshops at Anderson Ranch. As the Ranch’s Chair of the Artist in Residency, Casebeer helped to create a welcoming environment that fostered creativity within multiple disciplines. There is no way to adequately summarize how Doug’s Thirty plus years have impacted all of the artists, teachers, students, staff and the community of Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Suffice it to say that his legacy will always be felt on the Ranch grounds.

In the fall of 2018, Doug embarked on a new chapter of teaching and service. He will take his knowledge, enthusiasm, and expertise in kiln construction to another institution and group of students fortunate to have him. He is the newest Artist in Residence at the Oklahoma University School of Visual Arts. It should come as no surprise that in the short time he has been at OU School of Visual Arts he has already built a new version of the “little vic” soda kiln for the university.

Casebeer’s philosophic creativity has fueled his fervor as a kind of global “ambassador of peace” for well over three decades. Through workshops and lectures, he believes in bringing grace and beauty into people’s lives through the art experience. His role as United Nations Production Advisor and Ceramics Consultant reads like that of a US Secretary of State, with travels to Washington DC, Taiwan, Mexico, Vienna, Japan, Chile, Geneva, and Nepal, among other destinations. 

Victoria Woodward Harvey, Ceramics Monthly, January 2016

Elaine Olafson Henry | Elaine Olafson Henry is a ceramic artist, curator, writer, and local volunteer. She is the former Editor and Publisher of the international ceramics journals Ceramics Art & Perception and Ceramics TECHNICAL. he earned a BFA from the University of Wyoming and an MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and is now pursuing an MA in English at the University of Wyoming. She taught at Emporia State University in Kansas from 1996-2007 where she served as Chair of the Department of Art from 2000-2007. Henry served as the President of the International Ceramics Magazine Editors Association (ICMEA) 2014-2016 and the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) 2002-2004. She is currently a Fellow of that organization and a Lifetime Member of ICMEA. Her work is internationally published, exhibited, and collected. Henry has lectured, demonstrated and taken part in residences in more than 10 countries, including: Italy, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Latvia, China, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, and the U.S. She is an elected member of the International Academy of Ceramics. Through her work as educator, editor, leader, and artist, Elaine has elevate the practice of countless artists, both nationally and internationally. 

Elaine’s efforts have always been about raising the bar in the field, whether in criticism, publication, exhibitions, or professionalism, and she has done this by example. Henry earned the BFA and MFA degrees in art. Ever open to expanding her knowledge and experience, she is currently working toward and MA in English at the University of Wyoming. She is writing her thesis on ‘Comparative Rhetorical Analysis of Contemporary Art Criticism and Contemporary Ceramics Criticism,’ in an effort to continue to raise the bar by encouraging and contributing to the critical discourse in the field.

– Mary Jane Edwards, Executive Director, Jentel Foundation 

Winnie Owens-Hart | From an early age, Winnie Owens-Hart’s parents stressed the value of education above all else, bestowing her with the sense that she could begin to discover worlds within the pages of books. Today she is recognized as one of the ceramic art community’s most progressively expansive polymaths… educator, artist, filmmaker, author, and critical thinker in matters of clay, art and culture.

She taught at Howard University for more than 37 years and has conducted research, exhibited, and presented lectures internationally. Her career in ceramics began very early in life and has continued professionally since the 1970s. She opened her first studio in 1972 in Alexandria, Virginia. As a young art student, she imagined what pot-making and art must be like in Africa and then pursued that vision throughout undergraduate school. While teaching crafts in a Philadelphia public school, she discovered a film that demonstrated some African women hand-building a huge pot. She realized her dream of studying women’s traditional pottery techniques and culture in 1977, when she was selected to represent the United States and exhibit her ceramic work at FESTAC in Lagos, Nigeria. 

After receiving a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts she returned that summer to work in the village. Eventually she took a job with the federal government of Nigeria teaching ceramics at a nearby university to enable her to continue apprenticing traditional pottery, and was eventually accepted as part of the community’s pottery culture. For the past 10-years she has worked with women in a pottery village in Ghana. As both a  published author and curator, Owens-Hart has curated exhibitions primarily focused on contemporary African American artists and has also produced documentary films, including Style & Technique-Four Pottery Villages and The Traditional Potters of Ghana-The Women of Kuli. Over more than four decades, her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally with work in the collections of the Smithsonian, Kohler, universities, and private collections.

Excellence in Teaching Award  

Each of us has a teacher, mentor, someone who has opened our thinking and vision of ourselves. These educators, both formal and informal, often do not realize their full impact. Excellence in Teaching awardees have a career dedicated to the practice of teaching, demonstrated excellence in their own creative work and have highly visible former students in the field. They are beloved, celebrated, and appreciated by their former students and colleagues.

This year’s recipients are: Lenny Dowhie and Louis B. Marak.

Lenny Dowhie | Lenny Dowhie taught for 33 years at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville (USIE). His tenure brought stability to their program that has become more rare in university ceramics programs. Lenny passed along his experiences as an international artist to his students. His research afforded them an exciting, current and global view of the field. Recognized for his dedication, Lenny received the Evansville Mayor’s Arts Awards and the Arts Council of South West Indiana Art Educator of the Year Award. Along with his day job at USIE, Lenny has presented over 80 workshops, demonstrations, lectures and exchanges worldwide. Lenny’s work has been shown in over 100 exhibitions and included in important books and journals in the field.

Professionally, his activities have had national impact. He was a Founding Partner of Expressions of Culture, Inc., producers of the renowned Chicago International Exposition of Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art (SOFA) Chicago, NYC, Coral Gables and Santa Fe. He continues his involvement in this arena as a Partner in Expo Chicago, the Art Fair Company, Chicago, Illinois, since 2011.

Professor Dowhie set a great example for perseverance, problem solving, and above all—making Art.  His usual greeting to his students before class was, “Are you making Art today?” Just that simple phrase set the tone for the class—we were challenged to make Art every day. His class was student led—encouraging the senior students to mentor and teach the younger students, which built everyone’s confidence.

– Gregory A. Byard, former MFA student

Louis B. Marak | Louis Marak opens doors, and if you had the courage to walk through the threshold, he would help you reach your goals. I saw him do this for me and countless other students during my time at the Humboldt State University ceramics lab. He was a generous and supportive mentor to countless students. Lou created a challenging and creative environment at HSU for nearly 40 years, making exceptional impacts on his students and influencing a diverse field of ceramic artists including Michael Lucero, John Roloff, Skuja Braden, Ian McDonald, Ionna Nova Frisby, Brian Benfer, Nate Betschart, Jeff Irwin, Eva Champagne, Stuart Asprey, Brian Gillis, Colleen Sidey, Vince Pitelka, and Bryan Czibesz. 

His unique combination of casual delivery, pinpoint wit, serious criticism and self-deprecating humor created an interest and passion in his students. He would continue to solidify and support his students at HSU by quietly serving as an invaluable role model for how maintain rigorous teaching and art practices with lasting impacts. He treated students as individuals and challenged each one of us to find our voice, discover our niche within the ceramic world, and to strive to be the best artist in the room. Lou had an uncanny ability to breed confidence and empowerment in students without knowing it. He confronted each student with what we thought we knew about intent, content and process and then magically draw new work from us, leaving us convinced we figured it all out on our own. The impacts Lou has made through his teaching have been profound and continue to resonate, we owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to one person who changed so many people’s lives. (Written by Stuart Asprey)

Outstanding Achievement Award

 Recognizing a completed singular project that has contributed to the field of ceramics, the Outstanding Achievement Award honors contemporary artists, educators, writers, and other contributors. Their work is consider above and beyond what is typically within the scope of their professions.

This year’s recipient is: Richard “Dick” Wukich.

Richard “Dick” Wukich | Richard “Dick” Wukich’s love of art began during his high school studies in Braddock, Pennsylvania. Over the years since then, he has transformed his love of making and teaching pottery into a multifaceted movement that supports those in need locally and globally. Wukich went on to study art at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania where he earned a bachelor of science in art education. Subsequently, he earned a master of fine arts degree from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred where he worked with NCECA founder Ted Randall, Daniel Rhodes, and master teacher and potter Val Cushing. Later, he taught high school for a year before accepting a teaching position at Slippery Rock University where he worked for 43 years, until retiring in 2011.

Wukich remembers Cushing’s influence on his work and life through support of NCECA conference scholarships to regional high school students and educators in his mentor’s memory. “Val took me to the very first NCECA conference in East Lansing, Michigan in 1967. My support of this scholarship is a way of paying forward his generosity as a teacher and the influence of his expansive vision on my life,” Another way that Wukich has committed to the sustainability of ceramic art in education is through support of educator initiatives through the National K-12 Ceramics Exhibition Foundation. 

Wukich is also the founder of Potters Water Action Group, which has chapters all over the world dedicated to working on water quality issues. As an international coordinator for the initiative, Wukich has worked to set up production studios across the globe in countries such as Haiti, Nigeria and Nepal. Potters Water Action Group strives to provide safe drinking water through education, research, development, and the dissemination of ceramic water filters.

A Conversation with Jessica Brandl, 2017 NCECA Emerging Artist

A Conversation with Jessica Brandl, 2017 NCECA Emerging Artist

Jessica Brandl, one NCECA’s 2017 Emerging Artists has had a busy time since delivering an outstanding presentation on the final day of the conference in Portland, Oregon. Over the summer, she relocated from Philadelphia, where she had been teaching at the Tyler School or Art at Temple University, to Canada, where she is presently teaching at the Alberta College of Art and Design. In October, her work, Humunculus, was honored as the 1st place vessel award in the Zanesville Prize Exhibition. About the impact of NCECA’s Emerging Artist recognition on her life and work, Jessica shared the following:

Jessica Brandl at work

Since emerging at this year’s NCECA Conference, I feel a great relief, a quiet internalization of having addressed my peer group and presented my story. As a direct result of this public presentation I have been invited to demonstrate and speak at numerous schools and community art centers, and the added visibility has encouraged greater support and connoisseurship of both my work and research. The formal recognition by the NCECA board and committee provides value to my academic and studio endeavors, and the opportunity to present supported my assertion that I am a devoted member of the NCECA community willing to work and contribute to the creative grow of ceramic art and research to come.  However, the most important impact of this award came to me as an unexpected private transformation. In preparation for the presentation and show, I found myself looking deep within, searching for the most accurate way to describe what I do. I found the clarity and focus I needed through my feelings for ceramics and personal history rather than objects and practice alone. By retracing my own journey in clay, I was confronted with my strengths and weaknesses and realized that I had to speak candidly about this history in order to be most accurate about where my work comes from. Accepting vulnerability and having the fortitude to express this has been the most profound impact of having been an NCECA emerging artist. Thank you for allowing this public platform, and thank you for listening.

Jessica Brandl, Vessel B

Limited to 12-minutes at the conference, Brandl was kind enough to respond to some questions I recently posed to her via email correspondence. Her generosity of time and thoughtful response offer an opportunity to dig deeper into some of the decisions and motivations Brandl is exploring through her creative practice.


 JG: Why do you find the vessel such a compelling framework for sharing your stories?

JB: I admire the vessel as a visual framework in all of its historical iterations, but the most potent attraction to this context has to do with my personal history and how it satisfies my sense of balance. The vessel is a fascinating object, the void interior defines the exterior, it can physically contain something but it can also hold images and subsequently display ideas and narrative as symbolic language. A vessel is a container, but its interpretation permits a multifaceted understanding of utility as literal, metaphor or both.

Jessica Brandl, Vessel C

My attraction is grounded in the overt utility that a vessel suggests; it permits a connection to my Midwestern upbringing that established the premise that an object should be useful. It was the identification with labor and its value, which gave craft and craftsmanship high praise in my childhood home. What I now identify as high art, was viewed with suspicion in its seemly functionlessness and reference to decadence and collected wealth. The logic of childhood was flawed; however, my desire to mediate past and present perceptions through an object locates me at the contextual humility of vessels and pots.

Jessica Brandl, Ruin A

The narrative vessels I construct are beyond practical utility in most ways but my adherence to the void interior and vestigial function permits me to use the language. The linguistic ties are as important as the literal context and form. While many viewers understand what a vessel is, the appearance of novel content situated within the context of a familiar utilitarian form can be a disruptive experience. By calling what I make a vessel, I have framed the comparative conversation. Vessels and pottery preserve a formal levity, which permits me to address culturally averse subject matter.

Jessica Brandl, plate with birds


JG: Could you share a little about how you see your work connected to that of other artists working with narrative content within and beyond those working in clay? Who and what are you looking at and gaining inspiration through?

JB: I see my work as another iteration of a long and continuous human tradition of narration and communication. The telling of an epic or in my case an un-epic, with a cast of characters conveying something other and universal seems to be a part of human nature.  Artists that work with clay and clay-like materials speak the most directly to me. I examine how they have managed to communicate and what those technical strategies are; lastly, I like to ask why they are clay and not something else.

Jessica Brandl, Ruin B

I have always been fascinated by the raw clay bison formed on the floor of a cave in France some 14,000 years ago, those figures exist right alongside representative drawings of animals, abstracted dots, and incised geometric patterns. An important part of my personal narrative investigates why I insist on clay. Looking at other humans that use clay I am able to gain a better perspective through comparison.

Jessica Brandl, Vessel A

Therefore, I am inspired by human experience, specifically as it is represented in mythology, literature, science, history, ecology, phycology and culture. I compress the visual richness of the centuries into my own ceramic vessels, forming a distillation of historic and personal symbolic language.  Any visual or narrative similarities that my work possesses are the result of communal proximity informing my conscious and unconscious decisions. I do not worry as much as I once did about copying or nuance, I have a better understanding of myself as a unique person from a specific time and culture.  Themes, material, and methodology are the stuff of generating narrative and symbolic language. Each individual is different, but as members of the same species quite similar; circumstances and luck take care of the rest.

Jessica Brandl, Fintch


The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Art is immensely grateful to the Windgate Charitable Foundation for their support of NCECA’s Emerging Artists program from 2013-2017. Additional blog entries will appear on other 2017 recipients of the award before our 2018 cohort will be announced in the month leading up to the conference in Pittsburgh. 


Below, watch the video of Brandl’s 2017 conference presentation at the Emerging Artists Session on Saturday morning in Portland:

Call for Clay Stories 2018 speakers

Call for Clay Stories 2018 speakers

Dear Clay Friends:

If you had five minutes to tell a ClayStory, what story would you tell? We want to hear you tell it live, on stage, at NCECA 2018!

For those of you who are planning on attending NCECA 2018 in Pittsburgh PA, I have some exciting news to share. We’re inviting you to join hosts Steven Branfman and James Watkins along with some outstanding clay people for an evening of storytelling around the theme of clay. The event will be 90-minutes in duration, is scheduled for Thursday, March 15, 2:15-3:45pm in rooms 301-303 of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. A dozen or so clay artists will be given a maximum of 5 minutes to tell a clay story.

The topic can be anything, so long as it is related to working with clay. Your age, gender, amount of experience with clay, etc. are irrelevant. It’s all about the story! We would like to have as diverse a lineup of storytellers as we can possibly assemble.

You can augment your story with photographs that will be displayed on the big screen while you tell your story. Your story may be funny, it may be sad, it may be poignant, it may involve the fire department, your mother-in-law, etc. etc. Seems like any time two or more potters get together, interesting things can and do happen!

Email a brief synopsis of your story to Steven at with the subject line : “ClayStory Submission.” include your full name, snail mail address, and the best phone # to reach you.

Looking forward to hearing your story!

Thanks, Steven Branfman and James Watkins

Remembering Elmer Craig

Remembering Elmer Craig

It doesn’t seem fair.  It never does.  The death of a family member, friend, colleague, neighbor…no matter who it is in our lives the loss is always felt hard and deep.  So was the case with our dear friend, Elmer Craig, who passed away on August 31st in his sleep in Lexington, Kentucky just 12 days shy of his 85th birthday.  To say his passing is sad is indeed an understatement because in Elmer’s life, he embodied the essence of what it means to be a trusted friend, colleague, neighbor, husband, father, and brother.  In short, Elmer was a quality human being.

Elmer Craig in his studio at Eastern Kentucky University

Elmer Craig, originally from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, devoted his life to his family, students, colleagues, and the arts … in particular, the ceramic arts.  After earning his BA from Ball State University and then an MA from Western Michigan University, Elmer began a long teaching career that started in the high school ranks and ended at Miami Dade College North Campus in Miami, Florida where he was a Professor of Art for 27 years.  After retiring from a career in teaching, Elmer, together with his wife, Jane Seyler, a pediatrician, moved to Lexington, Kentucky where Jane continued her work at the University of Kentucky School of Medicine.  As luck would have it, for both Elmer and me, he was invited to serve as the resident ceramic artist in the Department of Art & Design at Eastern Kentucky University.  For seven years we worked together in the ceramics area, furthering our long relationship as friends and colleagues in clay.

While I had always known Elmer in south Florida as both a colleague and friend, it was this last seven years that cemented my understanding and appreciation of him not only as a person with great artistic skills, but also as a communicator.  Although upon his arrival I had already been teaching for over 25 years, my last seven years in the classroom, with Elmer at my side, taught me more than I could have ever imagined.  His daily interactions with students, his sensitivity to their needs, his willingness to extend himself beyond what is expected, his gentle nature and warm smile, always made everyone around him feel both comfortable and secure.  He never imposed himself on others and quietly worked himself into our lives in ways that allowed us all to realize he was far more than a teacher.  Elmer was not only my friend, he had become the friends of my students and colleagues.  He was respected, loved, and cherished by us all, and while his passing will be felt long into the future, the memories we all share of our association with him will live longer than the pain of experiencing his loss.

Lastly, I would be remiss not to mention Elmer’s love for ‘all things education’, which includes international travel (he was the recipient of a Fulbright teaching exchange in England and worked on projects in China and Guatemala).He also was a great devotee of expanding his knowledge through workshops and lectures, and most importantly, NCECA.  He was devoted to the NCECA family and its efforts to promote educational opportunities to young students entering the field.  To this end, I would like to make an appeal to anyone reading this who knew Elmer and loved him as we do by encouraging you to make a donation in honor of his memory to NCECA’s Fund for Artistic Development. NCECA has established this fund to support young talents and causes that were dear to Elmer’s heart including fellowships to support research beyond academia, international residencies, and special initiatives. I know for sure that Elmer would have embraced these causes, especially realizing how it further supports his love for education and our next generation of ceramic artists. Elmer’s legacy of helping others is something we all want to preserve, both in his name and through our love for someone who left an indelible impression on everyone he knew.  Elmer Craig, our dear friend and colleague in clay, will most definitely be missed but never forgotten.

Students: Your Voice, Your Chance.

Students: Your Voice, Your Chance.

Quest for Clay: The Importance of Travel, 2017 NCECA, Portland, Oregon

Even as the pressures of the semester are winding down for most students and everyone gearing up for summer activities, I want to make sure that everyone is still keeping NCECA on their minds. Now is the time for thinking about how you want to shape your future and your ideas, NCECA wants to give you the opportunity to focus these ideas and share your thoughts and energy with everyone. As a community run organization, everyone is welcome to help form our content, and students play just as vital of a role as anyone else. Not quite sure exactly what Student Interests content is? Mary Cloonan, NCECA’s Programs Director, explains it in her “Apply Yourself!” post (Read the full article here): Apply Yourself!

As a graduate student I have had a lot of life experiences, both good and bad, and feel like I have a story to tell. I was in China when I when I applied for my first NCECA lecture, as I realized how important travel and studying abroad was for my art practice and myself. Why would I not want to share my experiences and my collection of ideas if I thought it could help other, or inspire new ideas?

This is the best opportunity for students to share themselves in a meaningful way, and all too often students don’t take advantage of this wonderful chance. Do you have a project, collaboration, or just an experience you want to share? Who better to tell the stories you want to hear at NCECA than you? The application deadline for Student Perspective program proposals is September 6th, 2017 for the 52nd Annual Conference CrossCurrents: Clay and Culture in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Link to application:) Student Interests Programming Proposals.
Mark your calendars and I hope to hear your story in Pittsburgh.

-If you have any questions or concerns you can email either NCECA Student Director at Large, Naomi Clements or Myself:
-Brandon Schnur
Graduate Student, West Virginia University
Student Director at Large 2017- 2019

Quest for Clay: The Importance of Travel, 2017 NCECA, Portland, Oregon

Keep on Keepin’ On….

Keep on Keepin’ On….

I thought about titling this post “Marvelous Marge” or “Marge the Magnificent”…..both absolutely fitting descriptive titles.  But then I thought “Marge in Charge,” since she announced last year during her closing lecture that she has been “in charge since I was 5″, I’m sorry, I don’t work well in a group, I just always end up in charge”.  (that’s paraphrased). Basically there were a ton of titles I could have picked, but then I thought to myself.  WWMD?  (What would Marge do?) and of course, there was only one choice for the title.  Last year, Marge’s closing lecture was, I think, the presentation that I personally was most looking forward to.  You see, in our great collective family of clay, we often refer trace our lineage by teacher as we would our family through our parents and grandparents.  My teacher was Larry Brow at the Lawrence Arts Center, his teacher was Bunny McBride at the University of Iowa, which makes Bunny my clay grandfather.  And Keith Williams was at school there at the same time, so he’s my uncle, and so on… (it’s actually a fun NCECA game to play, much like 7 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon). But I digress.  Back to Marge….She taught ceramics at Purdue Univeristy with my real life ACTUAL father, so in a way, she’s like “Aunt Marge” to me (though I wasn’t actually BORN when she and dad taught together).  And of course, she’s that super cool aunt who does all the things you want to do and who you just want to grow up and be half as amazing as she is.  It’s no secret, obviously, that I think the world of Marge, and yes, I DO often think to myself “WWMD”.  So why did I wait nearly a year before posting her closing lecture?  Let me explain….

I’m releasing this video now, shortly before we all meet in Portland in much the same way a television show which has been on its long annual break will give you a “last season on….” before the first episode of the new season.  So enjoy reflecting on the magic of Kansas City with Magical Marge’s words of wisdom from the closing of our last conference, and then prepare for Portland and making more memories.

And really people, haven’t you ever heard of saving the best for last?  Thank you Marge, for an amazing closing to our 50th conference.