Southern Illinois University Edwardsville: From Ceramics Monthly's MFA Factor

The graduate program in ceramics at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville encompasses the diversity of approaches currently being explored in contemporary ceramics. Committed to fostering the evolution of ideas and techniques, and broadening the scope of possibilities within contemporary ceramics, the program also maintains a high standard of craftsmanship. A healthy balance of functional potters, vessel-makers and sculptors keeps the studio environment dynamic and engaging. Exploration in other studio areas as well as art history is required as a means to foster artistic growth across disciplines. A strong work ethic, attention to detail, artistic research and craftsmanship are required to successfully complete the graduate program. A positive attitude, which is conducive to working within a large studio community, is essential.


Paul Dresang has been teaching at SIUE for thirty years. He received his MFA from the University of Minnesota and specializes in ceramics and glass. Dresang currently shows his work at Ferrin Gallery, Duane Reed Gallery and Northern
Clay Center.

Left: “Rocket Boy,” to 8 in. (20 cm) in height, porcelain, residual salt fired.

Matt Wilt joined the faculty at SIUE in 2002. He holds an MFA from Ohio University and has received several awards, including a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship and the Evelyn Shapiro Foundation Fellowship. Wilt exhibits both nationally and internationally.

Left: “Satellite,” 23 in. (58 cm) in height, stoneware, porcelain, steel.

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
jon mcmillan
I came to SIUE for the great facilities and instructors. When I came to visit the school, I was also impressed with the work that the graduate students were making. In addition, the program at SIUE has the advantage of excellent funding and a great studio atmosphere.
I spent seven years between undergraduate and graduate school running my own business as a full time potter. I felt this time was integral to my development as a person and as a clay artist.
We are required to apply to at least two shows a semester as part of our program. Since I started grad school in the fall of 2006, I have participated in seven juried shows, and I am continually applying to others.
shanna fliegel
Upon completion of the undergraduate art program at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, I chose to travel; work various jobs teaching ceramics or other art programs; live in the woods as a wilderness therapy counselor for a year; reside in New York City; and complete two ceramic residencies. I treasure this time I took to develop my work, meet amazing people and experience invaluable life lessons.
Now, seven years later, I am entering into my third year as a graduate student at SIUE. The program offers an intense atmosphere where I can focus on being in my studio without distraction. I chose this school for its solid reputation, overall support of the arts and strong faculty. In addition, I have been offered an assistantship each semester which has given me experience teaching.
brooke noble
I took about four years off between undergraduate and graduate school to participate in a special student program, various artist-in-residence opportunities, as well as ceramic workshops at different art center locations. These experiences led me from New York to Vermont, Colorado, North Carolina, Jamaica and places in between. I would not trade this time for anything and would highly recommend taking a hiatus between academic enrollments. When it came time to enroll in graduate school, SIUE seemed to possess a majority of the attributes that I was looking for in a graduate program.
shou-chia chuang
The ceramics program at SIUE is outstanding and well known. Studying in such a strong program, I can absorb different aesthetics and a full range of approaches to different media. Additionally, I can explore the broad range of possibilities within the ceramic arts.
Between undergraduate and graduate school, I spent one year teaching at White Cloud Elementary School in Taipei, Taiwan. After that I worked as a technician in the Arts Department at the National Taipei University of Education. Because I have practical contact with the contemporary Taiwan educational system, I would like to enhance my ceramic specialty, cultural deepness and international viewpoint to promote more space for ceramics in Taiwan in the future.
evan wagman
I decided to take a non-academic approach to my ceramic education in between degrees, starting with a month in France, six months in Germany, a concentration at Penland, and finally as a special student at Penn State for a year and a half. This was a time for personal and artistic growth, which inevitably led to my decision to attend SIUE.
My pursuit of an exhibition career while in grad school is present, but takes a backseat to the development of my work. When I graduate from SIUE I would love to teach, all the while continuing to formulate my ideas as an artist. To be able to share the knowledge I acquired over the years with students eager to learn brings me great joy.
nicholas ramey
I chose to attend SIUE because it has the reputation of being one of the best graduate ceramics programs in the midwest, especially when it comes to the vessel. After I finished my BFA at Indiana University, I spent a year as a special student at West Virginia University. After that, I was still unsure of what I wanted to do. I took two years off before I realized that I needed to get back in school. I went from having full-time studio access for five years, to having no studio access at all. It was tough at first, but over time it got really hard not having access to a studio. Over the past two years, I have found that I really missed the community atmosphere of the studio.
virginia jenkins
I applied to SIUE based on the research that I did concerning the professors, alumni, current students and facilities. It was important for me to find an academic environment that offered a culturally and artistically diverse group. Also, one which would allow my work to grow in any direction.
I took three years between undergrad and grad. I wanted to further develop my work and gain some cultural experience before going back to school. I spent a few months at the Banff Centre in Canada, a few months working in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and two years at the Mendocino Art Center, in Mendocino, California.

Program Details
3-year program
25-40 applicants per yer, 2 accepted
Solo exhibition, written thesis
Teaching Assistantships offer tuition waiver and monthly stipend.
First-year graduate students are eligible for Competitive Graduate Award (university-wide, based on undergraduate GPA). The CGA offers tuition waiver and monthly stipend.
Highlights of the Facilities
11×13 semi-private studio space (approximate size)
Dedicated spaces for clay and glaze mixing with
2 clay mixers, pugmill, ball mill, spray booth
Fully stocked glaze area, raw materials storage
Indoor kiln room, which includes 2 large indoor gas car kilns, and an outdoor kiln pad
7 computerized electric kilns, 3 electric test kilns,
3 soda kilns, 2 residual salt kilns, 1 salt kiln, 1 wood-fired train kiln, 1 wood/soda kiln, 1 anagama wood kiln, 2 raku kilns
Enclosed sandblaster
8 treadle wheels and 10 electric potter’s wheels,
1 slab roller, 1 extruder


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