Ohio University: From Ceramics Monthly’s MFA Factor

The Ceramics area at Ohio University offers an inclusive environment where traditional and nontraditional forms of ceramic making are equally fostered, and emphasis is put on a conceptual awareness and rigor within the making process.


Brad Schwieger holds an MFA from Utah State University and has been teaching at Ohio University for seventeen years. Schwieger has conducted workshops and lectured across the United States, Europe and Asia. He has been an artist in residence at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts and Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts.

Left: “Architectural Still Life,” 16 in. (41 cm) in height, thrown and altered stoneware with multiple glazes, salt fired, nichrome wire, 2006.

Joe Bova earned his MA from the University of New Mexico and has been at OU for seventeen years. He has been a visiting artist at many schools including New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, the University of Georgia’s Cortona Italy Program, Haystack Mountain School of Craft and Penland School of Crafts, and was a resident artist at the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemet, Hungary.

Left “Spitting Monkey Teapot,” 7 in. (18 cm) in height, handbuilt white stoneware and porcelain, fired to Cone 10, with overglaze colors, fired to cone 018, 2007.

After receiving undergraduate degrees in England and the Netherlands, Alex Hibbitt came to the states and earned her MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. She has been teaching at OU for four years and her area of concentration is installation and mixed media.

Left: “Out of Place,” 12 ft. (3.6 m) in height, porcelain, fired to cone 5, paint.

Chuck McWeeny has been a professor at OU for 24 years and is also the dean of the College of Fine Arts. He earned his MFA from the University of Oklahoma and specializes in handbuilt ceramics, slip casting, and installation. McWeeny has exhibited his work nationally and internationally in more than sixty group shows and twelve solo exhibitions.

Left: “20 Plates,” 66 inches in length, press-molded earthenware with engobe printing, welded steel.

Tom Bartel is known for his “disturbing yet humorous” fragmented figures that take cues from a “shotgun blast” of influences ranging from antiquity to popular culture. He received his B.F.A. from Kent State University in 1993 and his MFA from Indiana University, Bloomington in 1996. Bartel has taught summer workshops at Ox-bow (SAIC), MI, Idyllwild Arts, CA, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and has taught at Allegheny College and Viterbo University. Bartel has an extensive exhibition record, including 20 solo shows, has participated in exhibitions in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and the Czech Republic and has conducted many artist lectures and workshops.

Left: “Red Hooded Figure,” 2010, ceramic, 18”x12”x10”

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.

liz zacher
My primary reason for coming to OU was the genuine interest that the professors expressed in my work and my ideas. OU focuses on both craft and concept, and I found that appealing. There is an emphasis on creating strong artists in this program, not just strong ceramics artists. Along with the intellectual rigor and diversity of the program, it was apparent that the professors have a true dedication toward their students.
After completing my undergraduate degree at The University of Hartford, I worked as a ceramics instructor and studio assistant at the Canton Clay Works in Canton, Connecticut. I then spent two years as a resident artist at The Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. The time between undergrad and grad school was very important in developing my ideas and studio practice. It also helped me gain an understanding of working and living as an artist outside of an academic setting.
elissa cox
I decided to attend OU because the faculty supports and encourages their graduate students in their studio and professional careers equally as strong while at OU as in postgraduate life.
After I received my BFA, I accepted a post-baccalaureate position at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Having the opportunity to be a post-baccalaureate student prepared me not only in my portfolio but also in my mindset when pursuing graduate school.
After graduate school I plan on maintaining a very active studio, along with teaching in higher education. During my time at OU, I have been in several solo, group, and juried shows. I think it is important to keep your resum© up to date, while realizing that the main priority is to be actively engaged and focused on graduate studio work.
hiroe hanazono
I chose the graduate program at OU because of its great reputation and faculty, as well as the other grad students, who are very professional, responsible and supportive. Also, many alumni are very active and successful in the ceramics field. The program offers a full scholarship and opportunities to teach. I wanted to further develop my work and concept, to find my voice and give myself the opportunity to teach in the future.
I have another year of grad school and that’s what I’m concentrating on right now. I have many options after I finish and when the time comes I will decide which way I want to go.

nicholas c. bivins
When looking for graduate schools, I looked carefully at the faculty, what type of work is currently being made there, and what the recent graduates were doing.
Coming out of undergrad my work had potential, but I just needed time and a critical environment to develop it. It was very important for me to go somewhere new and expand my vocabulary. I feel I continued to grow as an artist by changing situations and facing new challenges. After graduate school, I really want to make my work. I like the idea of teaching, being involved in the academic environment and the moderate financial comfort that provides, but I am most interested in becoming a professional artist.
I see this time as an opportunity to really push the work forward, experiment and try new things. This type of method leads to a very raw finished product, which is not ready to be shown. However, as I get closer to graduating I will become more active in exhibiting my work.
joe davis
My main reason for choosing OU was that I wanted to study with Brad Schwieger. Several close friends, who know Brad well, were convinced that we would work well together. The reputations of Chuck McWeeny and Joe Bova also influenced me. In addition, the kiln pad, with its plethora of kilns, was also a big draw. We have pretty much any and every firing option available here.
After undergrad, I wanted to learn firsthand what making and selling work was all about, so I took thirteen years in between. Also, I was not hungry for grad school right after undergrad. I figured that I should be burning for that experience, and have some clearly defined goals in applying to programs. This time between undergraduate and graduate school was absolutely invaluable for me.
My exhibition record before graduate school was a strength in my C.V. When Brad called to tell me that I was accepted to OU, he asked if I was truly willing to give up the galleries and shows for a while to focus on the development of my work. My answer was (hell) yes! So, for the first two years at OU, I stepped it down a notch. In the third year, I kicked back into gear with applying to juried shows.
mike jabbur
Ohio University has a strong reputation for developing and strengthening concepts, while maintaining a high level of technical prowess. OU also provides the opportunity to teach while earning a degree, and helps its students to find teaching positions around the country after graduate school.
I took three years between undergrad and grad school. This period gave me time to develop a strong portfolio capable of getting me into a more select graduate school. The time also provided me with the life experience outside of college that has proven essential to my work.
While I am still unclear of my post-graduate school goals, I am interested in pursuing residencies, teaching at the college/university level, and, primarily, in establishing a career as a studio artist. While in school, I have pursued participation in juried exhibitions, but on a fairly limited basis, concentrating more on my academic studies.
andrea keys
The most important things for me when looking into graduate school were community, faculty and diversity of student work. OU surpassed all of my desires. The faculty and students are unbelievably dedicated to the program, and it shows in the caliber of work that is coming out of OU.
In between undergraduate and graduate school, I spent some time at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was a special student at LSU for a year and a half. As a special student I was able to continue making art in a nurturing environment and, in working with the graduate students, I was able to understand better what I wanted out of a graduate program. When I applied to graduate school, I knew I was ready.
After graduation I plan on pursuing my artistic career through teaching at a university and showing my work as much as possible.
During graduate school my focus is not on showing my work. I find that when my focus is on showing, it inhibits my experimentation. Graduate school should be an opportunity to try things that you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to try.

tannaz farsi
I was a nontraditional student entering undergraduate school. I had operated a pottery studio that sold work through wholesale and retail venues. Considering my experience, I decided to continue with graduate school directly after undergraduate school.
My reasons for coming to OU had to do primarily with the stellar faculty. They challenge the idea of material and concept within a very supportive working environment. This support is also apparent in the upkeep of a great facility, and professional development in the form of pedagogy and artistic practice.
During my time at OU, I have had several solo shows, as well as group shows, but my focus has been on the development of work toward a thesis exhibition.

Program Details
3-year program
75-80 applicants per year, 3 accepted
All students selected are provided with
financial support in the form of tuition waivers, assistantships and associateships.
Highlights of the Facilities
350-400 square feet of private studio space for all graduate students (approximate size)
Indoor kiln facility, which includes 6 electric and 2 gas kilns
Outdoor kiln facility, which includes 15 gas kilns (2 salt, 4 soda, 1 raku), 6 wood kilns (1 salt, 1 soda), 2 manual electric kilns
More than 30 wheels, 2 slab rollers
Stocked and ventilated glaze and clay mixing areas with 3 clay mixers, 2 slip mixers, ball mill, glaze spray booth
Miscellaneous tool room, which includes welding equipment, oxy-acetylene torch and brick saw
Main library includes wide selection of ceramic books and publications
Aesthetic technology lab, interdisciplinary computer and new media lab


Comments are closed.

Enter Your Log In Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

Larger version of the image

Send this to a friend