Art and technology are being fused in the kilns of West Virginia University’s master of fine arts in ceramics, helping boost the program into one of the top 20 in the country.

“The head of our ceramics program, Assistant Professor Shoji Satake, along with Assistant Professor Robert ‘Boomer’ Moore, is developing the WVU Ceramics Technology Global Research Center, which provides the tools and resources to promote creative inquiry at the intersection of technology and fine arts practice in the field of ceramics,” says Alison Helm, director of the WVU School of Art & Design in the College of Creative Arts.

“Shoji and Boomer do an excellent job at training our talented ceramic graduate students,” she said. “They have brought both regional and international prominence to the ceramics program, along with ambitious intellectual, artistic and aesthetic contributions.”

The program was recently listed as the 18th best in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” These rankings, completed in 2012, are based on a fall 2011 survey of art school deans and other top art school academics at 230 master of fine arts programs in art and design.

The WVU master of fine arts program – which includes the study of painting, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, graphic design and intermedia/photography – has been nationally ranked since 2004 and this year was listed as number 72 in the nation.

“We are very excited about this good news, as we have many new initiatives happening here,” Helm said.

The WVU ceramics program is unique due to its ceramics study partnership with the world-renowned Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in China, which began in 1995. The School of Art & Design celebrated the opening of its new 16,000-square-foot ceramics studio complex at Jingdezhen Institute in 2007.

The program in China offers year-round undergraduate, graduate or professional level studies in ceramics, including basic language and culture and Chinese ceramic art history.

“This unique relationship allows those who participate in the program to see first- hand the historic connections of western ceramics to its roots in China and the preservation of ancient processes and techniques,” Helm said. “Our students have the opportunity to study with some of China’s most prominent teachers and ceramic artists.”

WVU’s master of fine arts program has undergone major revisions in recent years, she said, transforming the curriculum into a three-year course of study that encourages creative investigations across disciplines and promotes the study of related courses from across the campus.

Currently on view in the Mesaros Gallery at the Creative Arts Center is a Ceramics MFA show by Thomas Stollar, who will be graduating in May. Stollar took part in the Jingdezhen study program in the fall of 2009 and kept a daily blog of his experiences. See his blog here:

Other graduate programs at WVU were included in the rankings, including the School of Medicine’s ninth ranking in rural medicine; School of Pharmacy tied at No. 26; along with other top 50 programs: aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering, Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, 39; and clinical psychology, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, 42. Also, for the third straight year, the College of Law was recognized as a “Top Tier” school by the publication.



CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts

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