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Student Works in Progress

kcaiceramicsdept @ April 20, 2017

As the Spring 2017 semester draws nearer to its end, the atmosphere in the ceramics department is anything but winding down. The studios are packed as students push themselves to finalize their works before next week’s end-of-semester critiques and exhibition.

Here are some shots of what we’re all working so hard to complete:

jasmine piece

Jasmine Dorau, senior

marty cups

Marty Arnold, sophomore

raegan cup

Raegan Koepsel, sophomore

tessy teapot

Tessy Wolford, junior

debbie piece

Debbie Magyar, sophomore

Students Discuss Their Favorite Pieces in the Ken Ferguson Teaching Collection

kcaiceramicsdept @ April 6, 2017



Daniel Teran, 2006, Ken Ferguson Teaching Collection, Kansas City Art Institute Ceramics Department

Katie Pilmaier, a junior, explains her love for this delicate bowl of Daniel Teran’s (BFA 2007). “Whenever I try to think about what subtlety is, I think about this piece. It’s something you often don’t see or appreciate right away—the quality of an edge or the precision of a foot.” To interact with a work like this is “intimate,” she says. Indeed, when looking at the bowl, we noticed something we hadn’t before: the apple being eaten by the painted figure has a stem made from a single stroke of gold.


Rose Cabat-Felis, 1975, Ken Ferguson Teaching Collection, Kansas City Art Institute Ceramics Department

“They’re so simple, yet energetic,” says JAD Reyes, a junior, of Rose Cabat’s miniature bottles. “When something is small, we often overlook it, but these command your attention.” The somewhat traditional forms and the vibrant, semi-matte glazes come together to create an utterly mesmerizing group of works. JAD especially likes looking at the pots from an aerial perspective: “Where the different glazes meet, it’s like a galaxy.”

stan welsh

Stan Welsh, c. 1974, Ken Ferguson Teaching Collection, Kansas City Art Institute Ceramics Department

When I entered the ceramics department in 2015 and began to familiarize myself with the Collection, I found myself drawn to a particular piece on top of the cabinets: a strange, slightly lopsided basket form by Stan Welsh (BFA 1974). A different animal figure is painted in slip on either side of the vessel—one which seems horse-like, and another that reads like a cross between a bird and, in senior Issac Logsdon’s words, Mr. Snuffleupagus—both of which are decorated with sgraffito hatch-marks. The quality of the imagery and form recalls naive art; it is at once playful and sincere, and looks as though it could have been unearthed from some ancient archeological site.

2016–2017 McKeown Special Project Award Recipients

kcaiceramicsdept @ March 31, 2017

The recipients of this year’s ceramic McKeown Special Project Award grants are seniors Austin Bradshaw, Maddie Scott, and Emily Souers.

The grant was conceived by KCAI alums Byron and Deanne McKeown, with the goal of assisting students to fund their projects and research. Both Austin and Emily plan to use their funds to support material purchase for their BFA show pieces, while Maddie intends to use hers to finance an installation in the end-of-semester exhibition.

Many thanks to Byron and Deanne McKeown for their generous investment in KCAI ceramics students.


Austin Bradshaw, Mess Kit, 2016


Emily Souers, Float Paper House, 2015


Maddie Scott, Map with Neon Lights, 2016

KCAI student Issac Logsdon receives Regina Brown Fellowship

kcaiceramicsdept @

We are pleased to announce that ceramics senior Issac Logsdon is a recipient of the 2017 Regina Brown Undergraduate Student Fellowship, organized by the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA). Issac will use the grant to fund a trip planned for May to travel the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. In his current project, which incorporates collaborations with various writers, he is exploring the history of westward expansion with a nonstandard frame of reference, challenging the white American canon.


Issac Logsdon, chile / pepper, 2016


kcaiceramicsdept @ March 16, 2017

The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) is having its 2017 summit in Portland, Oregon next week, from March 22–25. The 51st annual conference, entitled Future Flux, is centered around the “hybrid practices, issues of diversity, notions of community and dynamic change” that define the times we live and work in.

KCAI ceramics chair and professor Cary Esser and assistant professor Casey Whittier will be attending the conference. Come visit the KCAI table, #T08 in the Resource Hall, to say hello and to hear about what’s happening in the ceramics department this year.

IMG_2226 2


Michael Strand and the Misfit Cup Liberation Project

kcaiceramicsdept @ March 2, 2017

Ceramic artist and North Dakota State University professor Michael Strand gave a talk earlier today as part of the Current Perspectives lecture series, and is doing a workshop with students in Casey Whittier’s social practice class, “This is Place: Connecting Ceramics, Culture and Community.” Tomorrow night everyone will have the opportunity to participate in his Misfit Cup Liberation Project at the KCAI Crossroads Gallery: Center for Contemporary Practice.


Michael Strand, The Misfit Cup Liberation Project, Plains Art Museum, Fargo, ND

Strand’s practice centers around using art to engage communities in the sharing of stories and experiences. The Misfit Cup Liberation Project was started in 2011, with its first event at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, ND. Its objective is for members of the community to bring in a cup they own and share its story, and then to exchange it for a cup made by Strand or another potter. The project has since expanded to several continents, with the goal of collecting 1,001 cups—and, as a concomitant, 1,001 stories.

A gallery discussion will begin at 5 PM on Friday, March 3rd at the KCAI Crossroads Gallery, with the reception and exchange following from 6–8 PM.

Mid-semester Studio Progress

kcaiceramicsdept @

Iliann Alvarez, junior


Claire O’Grady, sophomore


Samantha Ferrer, senior


Emily Souers, senior


Raegan Koepsel, sophomore


JAD Reyes, junior

Richard Notkin at KCAI

kcaiceramicsdept @ February 16, 2017

Richard Notkin

KCAI Ceramics alum and celebrated artist Richard Notkin (BFA 1970) is currently teaching a workshop centered around the ceramic tile to first-year students. For the six weeks that the workshop runs, his classroom in the Foundations building will also serve as his personal studio.


Richard Notkin, Heart Teapot: Petrol Hostage, from the Yixing Series, 2013

The department has been thrilled to host individual critiques with Richard for our juniors and seniors, as well as pizza lunches which provided students with a casual opportunity to converse with and ask questions of such a successful studio artist in their field.

The Loss of a Legend: Akio Takamori

kcaiceramicsdept @ February 9, 2017

Last month, on the 11th of January, renowned artist and KCAI Ceramics alum Akio Takamori passed away. In the 1970s, Takamori moved to the United States from Japan and attended the Kansas City Art Institute at the urging of Ken Ferguson. He graduated in 1976 and went on to study at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. In 1993 he became an associate professor of ceramics at the University of Washington in Seattle, a position he held until his death.


Akio Takamori, piece made in 1980s workshop demonstration, Ken Ferguson Teaching Collection, Kansas City Art Institute Ceramics Department

Love and gratitude for Akio were felt across the whole of the ceramics community, with many artists and organizations—from Switzerland to North Carolina—taking to social media to express the weight of this loss.

Ayumi Horie, a Portland, Maine-based artist and former student of his “credit[s] Akio for giving me permission to address tenderness and vulnerability in my own work.”

Colleague Jamie Walker said of the prolific artist, “Even yesterday he was working in his studio with the assistance of his son, Peter. They ended the day by loading a kiln.”


Akio Takamori, student work, 1976, Ken Ferguson Teaching Collection, Kansas City Art Institute Ceramics Department

He was described by students and friends as a soft-spoken, gentle soul, who took risks by going against the canon in his unapologetic representations of intimacy and emotion in his work. Spoken in his own words to the News Tribune of Tacoma in 2006, “My interest is humanity. That doesn’t change, even over a thousand years. Everyone from a 2-year-old to an old man still has love, compassion, appreciates beauty.”

All of us here in the department would like to offer our condolences to the artist’s wife, Vicky, and children, Peter and Lena.

Thank you, Akio.

Artstream Ceramic Library

kcaiceramicsdept @

This month, we have quite a few well-traveled visitors in the department; 29, to be specific. The Artstream Ceramic Library has generously loaned us their collection of cups to be variously used by the students and displayed in the Ken Ferguson Collection—thanks, guys! In many ways, the ACL is an extension of the Artstream Nomadic Gallery, which is just what it sounds like: a mobile gallery housed in an Airstream trailer. Alleghany Meadows founded the project in 2002, and with its success, he and a group of other ceramic artists eventually conceived of the idea for the Library, which began in 2009.

The ACL states its mission as being “to connect contemporary functional ceramics with ordinary people. Similar in structure to a literature-based library, the Ceramic Library loans out unique handmade cups made by thirteen nationally-known potters, for a period of seven days.”


Coffee or tea? Sophomores enjoy their cups in the Collection Room.

We’re on board to call the project a success! The students are enthusiastic about interacting with the cups, a setup which has allowed them to become familiar with prominent workers in the field of ceramics.

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