Applying for Graduate School
This last week I finished and turned in my application for graduate school. I want to get an MFA in ceramics. I've been thinking a lot in the last month about how I got into ceramics and where I want to go from here. I owe a big thanks to my hubby who read draft after draft and kept telling me to be more confident. Below, I've copied and pasted part of my finished draft of my letter of application.
I became involved with ceramics during my undergraduate work in Elementary Education. Once I took my first clay class, I became infatuated with the medium and just kept finding ways to come back. After years of taking ceramics classes on the side, I found that I was much more interested in a career making and teaching ceramics than that of a full-time elementary teacher. However, by this time, I was nearly finished with my degree and several months pregnant. When I gave birth a month after graduation, I decided to use my “time off” from work and school to explore my possibilities with clay. After nearly a year of creating, experimenting, and developing a coherent line, I started submitting work to galleries, selling at fairs and festivals, and getting my work online. I’ve used knowledge gleaned from my education background to develop child and adult courses in clay. Between selling and teaching, I have managed to build a professional ceramic career while being home for my daughter’s early childhood.
My practical and professional experience with clay before and since graduation has been extensive. I run and manage my own ceramics studio. I mix all of my own glazes from scratch, many of which I have developed for my own personal preferences. I am experienced at loading and firing electric, gas, and wood-firing kilns at low, mid, and high-fire temperatures as well as saggar, pit, barrel, and raku firings. With Clay Arts, Utah, I participated in a saggar-firing experiment in which we tested several additives for fuming effects over a 13-week period. As an active member of this group, I have attended several workshops and taught a section at their first Educator’s Workshop this past year. My work has been juried into several local and national exhibitions, one of which was juried by Val Cushing, whom I was privileged to meet at the opening reception in New York. Through gallery shows and online sales, my pottery has sold all over the US and Canada. In addition to preparation for an upcoming solo show at the Union Station Gallery in Ogden this summer, and filling orders for galleries and individuals, I currently teach clay classes for children and adults.
My recent work has been moving towards more sculptural and abstract vessels. My main emphasis is an exploration of attitudes and relationships. I like to manipulate the stance of a vessel and look at what it implies about the emotion or personality of a pot. Especially in my Offspring series (currently on display at the Bountiful-Davis Art Center), a group of paired works with a parent and child figure, I explore how two vessels can interact, and how differences in sizes, stances, and attitudes change dynamics between vessels. I ask myself questions like, “Is this one too overprotective, crouching over the other?” or “Does the way these tilt away from each other show emotional distance between them?” I draw inspiration for this series from my work as a stay-at-home mom. Technically, I have been striving for larger works, experimenting with creating plaster molds to further stretch my size and shape capabilities.
Ceramics is much more than a hobby for me. I am somewhat obsessive when it comes to clay, and always eager and willing to learn and grow. I feel the MFA program at the University of Utah will help me further expand my abilities and open up increased opportunities to teach, especially at the college level, where I am most interested in working.
Wish me luck! :)