Bowling Green State University: From Ceramics Monthly’s MFA Factor

The MFA program at Bowling Green State University prepares students to become professional artists and educators. As graduate students explore their ideas, the faculty members serve as guides, helping them navigate the art-making process. Students are encouraged and challenged; through this process they learn to carefully consider their intentions and develop an honest dialog with their work. The small size of the ceramics graduate program fosters an intimate mentoring relationship. Graduates work closely with faculty members to develop a strong body of work while honing the professional skills needed to advance their careers.



John Balistreri holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Kent State University. He has taught at BGSU since 1996. Balistreri’s work has spanned many subjects; he is currently working on large-scale airplane sculptures. Balistreri has a strong pottery background and continues to produce vessels in conjunction with his sculpture. In addition, he is also conducting research with printing ceramics on a 3D rapid prototyping machine. The project has had positive results leading to several technology grants and patent applications. He is represented by Sherrie Gallerie, Columbus, Ohio, and Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri.


Left: Wing, 102 in. (259 cm) in height, stoneware with slip and glaze, soda fired, 2007


Joseph Pintz received his BA from Northwestern University and his MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has taught at BGSU since 2007. Pintz’ sculptural and functional work explores the role that domestic objects play in fulfilling our needs on a physical and emotional level. His forms are based on mundane objects from the domestic realm, referring to traditional pottery and other implements associated with the hand. His work can be seen at Turman • Larison Contemporary, Helena, Montana, and the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, Oregon.


Left: Joined Drain Tile, 14 in. (36 cm) in height, earthenware, 2008.


This post was excerpted from Graduate Programs in Ceramic Art: Profiles of Several Top Institutions for Obtaining an MFA in Ceramics, which is free to Ceramic Arts Daily Subscribers.

Graduate Students

clay leonard
My main reason for attending BGSU was to work with the faculty. I have a lot of respect for them as artists and felt it was an ideal situation to learn from their different types of work and philosophy. I was also attracted by the intimate environment of the studio and the direct interaction with the active undergraduate community.


After earning my BFA, I took a teaching assistantship at Adrian College in Michigan for a year, where I served as a ceramic technician and taught two community classes. During this time, I focused on refining my work and developing my portfolio. It was ideal for me to be able to work independently on my work outside the structure of a degree program.


I have been actively pursuing and participating in exhibitions during graduate school. I believe it is important to focus not only on the development of my work and ideas, but also on all other aspects pertaining to my professional career. Exhibiting is one of these priorities for me; it allows me to gain exposure while receiving feedback about the progression of my work from a larger forum.


tommy frank

I took time between undergraduate and graduate school to focus my technical skills and investigate programs. Once I entered graduate school, I wanted to have the ability to translate anything in my head into the material. I participated in residencies and attended the University of Florida as part of their Post-Baccalaureate program.


I am actively pursuing an exhibition career while in school. I understand that making art does not happen in a bubble. Balancing studio time, teaching/assistantships and exhibiting will be a life-long goal. Developing those practices starts where I am now.


Program Details

  • 2-year program, requiring a small group thesis exhibition.

  • 20 applicants per year, 1-2 accepted

• Technical and Teaching Assistantships available each academic year, include tuition waiver and yearly stipend.

Highlights of the Facilities

  • 150 square feet of semi-private studio space for all graduate students

  • 27-cubic-foot Bailey downdraft car kiln

  • 90-cubic-foot downdraft gas kiln

  • 6 top-loading electric kilns

  • 16-cubic-foot Fredrickson front-loading electric kiln

  • 175-cubic-foot downdraft salt kiln

  • 18-foot-long anagama wood kiln

  • 85-cubic-foot soda kiln

  • 21-cubic-foot downdraft soda kiln

  • 8 kick wheels, 8 electric wheels

  • Hydraulic extruder

  • Soldner claymixer

  • Digital pyrometer

  • Spray booth

  • Well-equipped woodshop


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