New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University: From CM’s MFA Factor

The mission of the Division of Ceramic Art at Alfred is to educate ceramics artists at the undergraduate and graduate level to the limits of the imagination. At Alfred, the faculty believes in the critical development of concept and individual point of view, as well as establishing a solid foundation in materials, process-technology, equipment-and skill. A knowledge of art history, including ceramic art history and a national/international cultural awareness is considered important. The faculty welcome students from around the world and look forward to listening to them. Clearly, the students are the future of ceramic art.


Anne Currier has been on the faculty at Alfred for 23 years and her areas of concentration are sophomore wheel and handbuilding, junior sculpture (tile) and graduate studios. Currier holds an MFA from the University of Washington, in Seattle. She is represented by Lacoste Gallery, in Concord, Massachusetts; Harvey/Meadows Gallery, in Aspen, Colorado; Galerie b15, in Munich, Germany; and Galerie Pierre, in Paris, France.


Left: “Swizzeld,” 12 in. (30 cm) in height, glazed ceramic.


Andrea Gill earned her MFA from Alfred in 1976 and has been teaching there for 23 years. She is represented by Harvey Meadows Gallery, Aspen, Colorado.


Left: “Crewel Work,” 34 in. (86 cm) in height, slab-bult and press-molded terra cotta with engobes, majolica glaze, low-fire copper blue glaze, 2007.


John Gill has been teaching at Alfred for 23 years. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, where he earned a BFA in 1973, and received his MFA from Alfred in 1975. Gill is represented by Kraushaar Gallery in New York City and Harvey/Meadows Gallery in Aspen, Colorado.


Left: “Billy Budd Series Vase,”28 in. (71 cm) in height, slab-built stoneware with glaze, fired to cone 10.


Linda Sikora holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota and has been a professor at Alfred since 1987. She is represented by Ferrin Gallery and also exhibits in group shows at other galleries.


Left: “Tea For Twenty,” 7½ in (19 cm) in height, thrown porcelaneous stoneware with polychrome glaze, wood/oil/salt fired.


Wayne Higby earned his MFA from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1968 and has been on the facuty at Alfred for 34 years. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City (formerly the American Craft Museum), the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Victoria and Albert Museum, among others.


Left: “Earth Cloud,” 30 ft. (9 m) in height, 5000 hand-cut porcelain tiles, 2006.


Walter McConnell earned his MFA from Alfred in 1986 and has been a professor there for ten years. He is represented by Cross Mackenzie Ceramic Art in Washington D.C. and has exhibited in recent exhibitions at the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art in Sedalia, Missouri; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Massachusetts, and Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Left: “Itinerant Edens: Fountainhead,” to approximately 9 ft. (3 m) in height, moist clay in plastic enclosures, MDF board, polystyrene, incandescent light, 2006.


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

paul donnelly

I chose to attend Alfred because I felt it would be the most beneficial program to aid in my exploration as a potter. I was impressed with the facilities and the number of faculty available to students.


elizabeth emery

I decided on Alfred because of the large number of faculty and graduate students. Making work next to such a diverse group of people sounded exciting. And the facilities are top notch. I wept when I first saw the kiln room.


rebecca chappell

I had heard only good things about this graduate program from people that I trusted. Also the school is located in a very rural area with little distraction and a beautiful landscape. The graduate program is fully funded as well.


andrea marquis

I took five years in between my schooling and explored a variety of opportunities including teaching positions, studio managers/tech jobs and residencies. I felt I needed personal and professional experience before entering a master’s program.


alec schramek

I spent an extra year in my undergrad program at Eastern Oregon University, and was accepted to grad school directly after. I needed the extra time to grow, and it was a good alternative to taking time off because I never lost momentum.


mat karas

The varied faculty, extensive facilities, and technical resources were some of the things that attracted me to Alfred.


mark hochstedler

I’m not focusing on an exhibition career while in school. Grad school has been a great opportunity to explore work without concern of its success or failure in the marketplace.


michael fujita

I wouldn’t have felt comfortable applying to grad school before I finished my final semester of undergrad, simply because of that reason, I was not finished. I felt that applying to grad school should include not only extensive research of the programs, but a visit to the school as well, if possible.


joe page
I arrived late to ceramics and art-making in general, and wanted a bit more time to build a portfolio. I think the time away from school made me appreciate what a privilege it is to be back here.


liz sparks

I recently went back to school after twelve years. That time in between provided me with the invaluable experience of making pots in a variety of conditions such as part-time work, the Core Program at Penland School of Crafts, residencies, and, finally, some years of supporting myself through full-time pot making and teaching. Those experiences have given me confidence in my ability to sustain my work.


thomas schmidt

During the time [between undergrad and grad school] I sought out jobs as assistants to established ceramicists including some of my past professors. These experiences gave me a good sense of what a professional studio practice really meant and gave me a handle on the business aspect of the art world.


seth payne

I believe it takes many years to become technically able enough to execute your ideas as a potter. Having this experience before graduate school provided me with a broader vocabulary so I can focus on what I want to say now.


kala stein

I was attracted to Alfred because of…the focus on materials testing and the assistantships available. The rural setting [has] few distractions, [but is] still in proximity to New York City, Toronto, and Philadelphia.


shawn murrey

I grew up thirty miles east of Alfred. As I looked for graduate programs, I decided having access to the landscape I grew up with would be a great thing. Alfred’s six ceramic faculty members, amazing facilities and connections to ceramic engineering solidified my choice in attending Alfred.


eliza au

The focus at Alfred is to experience and experiment with issues and techniques that you are unfamiliar with, which does not necessarily conclude in success. I intend to take the accumulation of my graduate experience and apply it to my exhibition career in the future.


benjamin deMott
In between undergraduate and graduate school I spent a little over a year working out ideas in a rented studio space and holding a couple of jobs to affirm what I wanted next.


Program Details

2-year program

Approximately 140 applicants per year, 8 accepted

All graduate students are given assistantships. These are of various types including both non-teaching and teaching.

Tuition is waived for all students accepted to the graduate program

Highlights of the Facilities

6 Gas-fired front-loading kilns, 5 gas-fired shuttle car kilns, 3 gas test kilns, 10 electric-fired front-loading kilns, 3 electric top-loading kilns, 2 electric shuttle kilns

1 Clark fork lift

Outdoor kiln area with 5 gas-fired salt/soda kilns, 1 raku kiln, 1 two-chamber wood/soda kiln, 1 one-chamber wood kiln

Designated spaces for clay and glaze mixing (including separate graduate student glaze lab) with ball mills, stationary mixers, pugmill, Ohaus triple-beam scales, spray booths, digital scales, 3 Soldner mixers, 2 dough mixers, 1 Muller vertical shaft mixer, 1 Pan crusher, 1 clay grinder, 1 sandblaster and 2 Shar mixers

Raw materials research lab

Glaze computer room

Plaster room

110 wheels, 2 pneumatic extruders, 3 slab rollers

Mold dryer, clay dryer, brick saw


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