Louisiana State University: From Ceramics Monthly's MFA Factor

The ceramics faculty at Louisiana State University recognizes the importance of inventive personal statements and the experimentation and exploration of visual concepts. We emphasize the marriage of art and craft and try to avoid narrow vocational goals. Divisions between media are considered to have disappeared and the graduate-level student is expected to work as a maturing artist motivated by independent ideas. Our graduate students’ interests vary from a strong functional pottery orientation to the concerns of sculpture and conceptual art.


Michaelene (Mikey) Walsh earned her MFA in ceramics from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1995. She has been teaching at LSU for seven years and has held teaching positions at Massachusetts College of Art, the University of Georgia, the University of Washington, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of California-Davis. Walsh’s area of concentration is sculpture and installation.

Left: “Bittersweet,” approximately 6 ft. (1.8 m) square, handbuilt and slip-cast earthenware with low-fire glazes, 2006.

Andy Shaw is assistant professor at Louisiana State University. In addition to LSU, Andy has taught at Alfred University, Gettysburg College, Arcadia University, and Andrews University. He has held residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation, Arrowmont, and The Clay Studio of Philadelphia, where he was the 2006-2007 Evelyn Shapiro Foundation Fellow.  In 2000 he earned a MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and in 1992 a BA in History from Kenyon College. In addition he studied at Penn State University, the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and worked as an apprentice at Basin Creek Pottery, Montana. His tableware has received multiple awards, is shown widely across the US, was recently featured in exhibitions in Australia and Korea, and has been published in Studio Potter, Ceramics Monthly, Garth Clark’s Shards and most recently in New Jersey Life and Elevations, the magazine for Club Members of the Ritz Carlton. 

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
jennifer poueymirou
At LSU, the facilities are great, the faculty is knowledgeable and open to students working in media other than ceramics. I did take time off between undergraduate and graduate school and I think it was invaluable. Not only did I work in numerous jobs that extended my knowledge, I also gained valuable teaching experience. The most important reason for doing it though is that you learn how to pay your bills, have a life and also make your work. It really taught me why it was important for me to make work. I didn’t have any doubts when I went to grad school.

haejung lee
I am an international student and when I was planning to apply to graduate schools, I searched for a ranking of ceramics graduate programs. LSU is one of the most prestigious schools and has nice facilities. The faculty is well known in America and I liked the different styles of their work.
I have a masters degree from my native Korea and I took time off between my undergraduate degree and masters there. I also took some time before pursuing my MFA in America. This second break enabled me to travel to other countries for residencies and enabled me to further develop my interests in ceramics.

brian dieterle
I took time off in between undergraduate and graduate school to figure out if I could make a living as a potter. I transformed my attic and basement into a ceramics studio, then shifted gears and moved to Detroit to find work. I found a position at Pewabic Pottery and fired their tiles and vessels for two years. After work, I went to my studio, but the energy was not there. I realized that if I did not find a way to spend my time creating work for myself, I would go nowhere. That is when I applied to LSU and other graduate programs.
I chose LSU for my graduate pursuits because the program is three years long, offers teaching positions, supplies both a full tuition waver and a working stipend, consists of two outstanding faculty members, seven graduates, special students, visiting artists and one the biggest studios I have ever been given.

jenny gawronski
I chose to attend LSU because I wanted to attend a three-year program so I would have ample time to explore my ideas for my work and materials. LSU offers the opportunities to teach and to assist in teaching in a variety of college courses, as well as private studio spaces, electric and gas kilns and materials. After graduating, I hope to teach ceramics at a public high school. I truly believe in the importance of encouraging younger students in their artistic pursuits.
In between my undergraduate and graduate studies, I spent two years as a post-baccalaureate student at the University of Colorado and in Sweden at the University of Design and Craft. I also spent time in a nonacademic setting at the Women’s Studio Workshop and the Penland School of Craft. I spent this important time expanding my experiences with a variety of teachers and locations to prepare myself for my graduate degree.

Program Details

  • 3-year program requiring solo exhibition and thesis
  • 40-45 applicants per year, 2-3 accepted
  • All graduate students selected receive a full fellowship , plus a tuition waiver. In return, students provide 20 hours of service through teaching or other department-related activities.
Highlights of the Facilities
All students have approximately 170 square feet of private studio space. There are stocked and ventilated glaze and clay mixing areas with 2 clay mixers, 1 pugmill, 1 walk-in glaze spray booth

  • 9 electric, 7 gas kilns (2 soda),
    2 test kilns
  • 25 electric wheels, 5 kick wheels
  • Sandblasting cabinet
  • Brick saw


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