Syracuse University: From Ceramics Monthly's MFA Factor

Across all studios, our overriding objective is to cultivate and enrich curiosities. We ask the individual to become comfortable with the uncertainties of risks, in exercising the freedom of the graduate experience to explore what they don’t know. We want them to become innovators and practitioners of change in their respective studios and, at the same time, be cognizant of, and a willing advocate of, tradition. Teaching to the unapologetically functional vessel through to conceptually framed inquiries, the faculty promotes an open dialog with other disciplines. This has been the underlying strength of our program through much of its110 year history.

The ceramics facility is housed in the ComArt complex, which is home to fibers/textiles, metal, printmaking, and sculpture, with a graduate population of approximately 25 students. As a Level I private research university, there are numerous institutional resources beyond those of this extensive and contemporary facility, both abroad and on our urban campus. Regionally, the school is equidistant to Montreal, New York City, and Toronto, often the destination points of one-day seminar or class excursions.

Check out the Program Details and Facilities Highlights


Margie Hughto, professor, earned her MFA degree from Cranbrook
Academy of Art and a BFA from Buffalo State University. Hughto, who has
been teaching at Syracuse University for 36 years, is represented by
Loveed Fine Arts in New York, New York. Left: Forest Sunset, 18 in. (46
cm) in width, stoneware, glass, and found objects, fired to cone 6 in
oxidation, 2009.

Errol Willett, associate professor, received his BA from the
University of Colorado, Boulder and his MFA in ceramics from the Penn
State University. He has been at Syracuse University for twelve years.
His work has recently been shown at the Icheon World Ceramic Exposition
Centre in Icheon, Korea, the Everson Biennial at the Everson Museum of
Art, in Syracuse, New York, and the Limestone Gallery in Fayetteville,
New York. Above: In the Same Boat, 14 ft. (4.3 m) in length, slab-built
and press-molded stoneware, porcelain slip, terra sigillata, and coal,
fired to cone 04 in an electric kiln, 2005.

Peter Beasecker, associate professor, recently joined the Syracuse
faculty. He received his MFA from the New York State College of
Ceramics at Alfred University and a BA from Miami University. He is
represented by Harvey Meadows Gallery in Aspen, Colorado, Santa Fe Clay
in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Lacoste Gallery in Concord, Massachusetts.
Right: Double vase, 18 in. (46 cm) in height, wheel-thrown porcelain,
glaze, fired to cone 10 in reduction, 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

ed feldman
Upon arrival I found the facilities to be amazing and
the space and funding to be generous. There was a full range of
learning experiences at Syracuse University, from an incredible
visiting artist program to in-depth tech classes and a series of
teaching opportunities as well as a very active ceramics club. From the
very first day I was encouraged to take chances and explore. My studio
practice was fairly free and flexible but it was tempered by regular
and very serious critiques. I was very impressed that the faculty not
only didn’t mind my showing while in school, they strongly encouraged
it. It was a very important educational tool as it helped prepare me
for the exhibition world. Syracuse University has to be one of the best
kept secrets for graduate ceramic study.

elizabeth fezzuoglio
The main reason I chose to go to Syracuse
was because the program is three years. That extra year will give me
time to experiment with my work and absorb what I can from the faculty
and my peers.
randy jones
Syracuse University offers a three-year program which
provides me an extra year to experiment and develop a conceptual and
material practice, network through a strong visiting artist program,
and because of the schools central location, interact with larger
cities, art institutions, and diverse art communities. After
graduation, I will center on returning to the West coast. There I will
continue to develop my ideas and studio practice, look for a teaching
job to provide a steady income, focus on opportunities to show, and
play an active role in the larger art community.
shawn o’connor
I took two years off between undergraduate and
graduate school. I spent that time working, attending workshops, and
participating in two different residency programs. When choosing a
graduate school, I was looking for a change from the small, mostly
commuter school where I received my undergraduate degree. I was
impressed by the strong program and facilities that Syracuse University
has to offer.
My career plans for post-graduate school life are
still up in the air, but working for non-profits has sparked my
interest in that direction.
zach dunn
I took almost four years off after undergraduate
school. I worked at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in
Gatlinburg, Tennessee for almost a year and I had a two year
apprenticeship in Floyd, Virginia before entering graduate school. I
chose Syracuse University because it has great facilities and an
awesome faculty. The school continues to hire high quality faculty,
showing a dedication to the program for the long term.

tijana djordjevic
Syracuse University was a great choice for me
because I have the opportunity to learn in a foreign language from
three great professors and try things we don’t have in Serbia, like
firing in soda kilns and wood kilns.

Program Details (back to top)

3-year/ 60-credit MFA program.

Solo thesis exhibition required at the end of the program

Approximately 20 applicants per year;
1-2 accepted per year

assistantships and stipend awarded to all full-time MFA students,
competitive full-tuition fellowships available as well.

Career-planning and job-placement assistance available


Facilities Highlights

12,500 square-foot dedicated space

200-square-foot private graduate studios

50- and 125-cubic-foot downdraft, car kilns

34-cubic-foot downdraft gas kiln

40-cubic-foot soda kiln

30-cubic-foot salt kiln

15-cubic-foot outdoor gas kiln

Anagama kiln

Train-style wood kiln

Two 3-cubic-foot, one 10-cubic-foot raku kilns

Seven electric kilns

Three glass slumping/annealing electric kilns

Pit and experimental firing area with portable burner system

Clay mixers: large Soldner mixer, 500 lb. dough mixer, Bluebird mixer

Two pug mills

Walk-in spray booth

Two slab rollers

20 wheels, kick and electric

Two extruders, one pneumatic

spaces: materials room with forklift accessible loading dock, critique
gallery, plaster and mold making room, wet and dry glaze labs

This was published in the November 2009 issue of Ceramics Monthly magazine. To get great content like this delivered right to your door, subscribe today!



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