The Clay concentration’s goal is to foster the development of each student’s conceptual understanding, perspective and language, while advancing technical skills with regard to the building, glazing and firing of clay. Aesthetics, design and concept are addressed in a curriculum that favors diversity of approach and process. Hand-building, wheel-throwing, mold-making and casting offer students various tools of making that enable them to better express their ideas. Historical precedents as well as contemporary art and issues are incorporated into each class to help students understand the broader context in which they are working. Introductory classes begin to cover the depth and breadth of the field of ceramics; advanced courses provide students an opportunity to develop personal direction and voice. Small class size assures individual attention and full access to the studio facilities.
The Clay curriculum is greatly enhanced by the Ceramic Speaker Series, which brings two visiting artists to Appalachian each semester for demos, critiques and lectures. Past visiting artists and speakers include Lisa Clague, Nick Joerling, Norm Schulman, Cynthia Bringle, Keith Wallace Smith, Nina Hole, Dennis Sipiorski, Matt Kelleher, Amy Santoferraro, Kari Radasch, Meredith Brickell, Tom Kerrigan, Gay Smith, Michael Hunt, Alice R. Ballard, Suze Lindsey, Jerilyn Virden, Terry Gess, Magda Gluszek, David Pier, Hayne Bayless, Bill Daley and Cristina Cordova.
The Clay Studio at Appalachian State is housed in a 1500 sq. ft. studio that encompasses hand-building and throwing areas, a fully stocked glaze and mixing room, and six indoor kilns. There is a 24 cu. ft. downdraft and a 7 cu. ft. downdraft gas kiln, three electric kilns (one of which is a large 20 cu. ft. coffin kiln for firing large-scale work), a raku kiln and test kiln. The facility houses 15 electric pottery wheels, a slab roller, two spray booths for glazing, a sandblasting booth, tile saw and belt sander.