sfai news

February 22, 2008

SFAI Set to Launch New Ceramics Program in Fall 2008

In the fall of 2008, SFAI will launch a new program in ceramics. Though ceramics has been comprehensively taught, studied, and practiced in the Sculpture department at SFAI since the 60s (internationally known figures include Richard Shaw, Karen Breschi, Ron Nagle, and Jim Melchert), the new program will dedicate itself to emphasizing and appreciating ceramics as a unique medium of contemporary art practice and theory.

SFAI’s ceramics program combines traditional notions of ceramics with more conceptually based experiments in the deployment of material. Students are encouraged to explore the unique character of the medium from a broad range of contemporary perspectives. The program also recognizes that ceramics has a global history extending across many cultures. Whether Chinese funerary statues, Greek pottery, Nok terracotta figures, California Mission architecture, Japanese glazed tile roofs, English Victorian brickwork, Dogon villages, or Adobe houses of the American Southwest, the art of ceramics has been a mainstay of inventiveness and versatility.

Drawing on a knowledgeable, experienced, and internationally recognized faculty, as well as on a host of visiting artists and scholars of global renown, the program merges formal methodologies of sculpture with a variety of contemporary experimental ceramics procedures: installation, claymation, architecture, design, and environmental and public interventions. Issues that emerge as central to the theory and practice of ceramics include function versus nonfunction, craft versus art, the complexities of gender, indigenous attitudes toward the land, and the relation of the discipline to the sciences (geology, physics, geography, including sedimentary and metamorphic materials, heat dynamics, and glaze chemistry).

The curriculum includes introductory, intermediate, and advanced courses in the techniques and technologies of ceramics, as well as interdisciplinary connections to other departments in SFAI’s School of Studio Practice. Moreover, seminars, courses, and colloquia offered in SFAI’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies promote a more critical comprehension of the history and theory of contemporary art—in particular, the ways in which such history and theory inform the study and practice of ceramics.

Inspired by a long tradition of avant-garde and contemporary artists who have recognized and exploited the availability of ceramics in the conceptual and material evolution of their work—Marcel Duchamp, Lucio Fontana, Judy Chicago, Thomas Schütte, Richard Long, Tony Cragg, Ken Price, Huang Yong Ping, Gabriel Orozco, and Magdalena Odundo—the program in ceramics at SFAI allows for a challenging exploration of the formal and conceptual methods of an ancient yet extraordinarily contemporary discipline.