University of Oregon

Department of Art


Facilities  Courses  Recent Visiting Artists  Faculty

Ceramics artworksThe ceramics area is driven by an investigative synthesis of material, methods, and theories associated with ceramics and contemporary art practices. This is anchored by curriculum, facilities, and personnel that nourish a depth of inquiry, access, opportunity, and individuation. Sculptors, potters, installation artists, and interdisciplinary innovators work side by side in a nurturing non-hierarchical environment. Rich in investigation, experimentation, and creative avidity, the ceramics area emphasizes technical and formal proficiency, historic and theoretical literacy, and openness to mining parallel practices and the world at large.

Ceramic artworkThe ceramics studio is located on the Northsite - a complex of art studios and classrooms scattered among trees along the Willamette river bike path and the flowering, fruiting patchwork of the Urban Farm. The ceramics area is a thriving community of about 100, serving students at the undergraduate, BFA, and graduate levels. Classes are held in the main studios. BFA students share a space, and graduate students work in shared and private studios. The ceramics area is unique in its focus on community and a shared regard for the individuality of the creative process.

The ceramics area offers a broad-based, technically comprehensive undergraduate curriculum in ceramics. Students begin with fabrication and surface tools, alternative methods, and industrial processes. The intermediate level is an examination of firing theory and glaze calculation, critical approaches to art practice, the history of ceramic art, and contemporary trends and development in the art field at large. Advanced level courses are often built around themes and challenges, drawing on all methodologies to advance the vision of the student.



The ceramics facility supports a wide range of processes and techniques. It is designed and equipped to afford unfettered access and breadth where no one process takes precedence over another. Having the ability to use technologies that are thousands of years old are as important as those that are still being developed. In addition to standard facilities for processing, glazing, mixing, and firing, the ceramics area also houses an exhibition/project space that students may reserve for one-week periods or longer during academic breaks. Access, safety, technical effectiveness, and environmental consciousness are the chief principals that govern area facilities, equipment, and practices.


The mixing facilities have a number of options seldom found outside of industry including shearer and filter press, as well as those common to the studio ceramist such as blunger mixers, Soldner mixer, dough mixer, cement mixer, and de-airing pug mills, etc.


Our Throwing Dojo has 30 potter's wheels including electric, treadle, kick, etc. Advanced students and grads often have dedicated wheels in private spaces.


The Firing Lab makes available as much breadth in process as possible from super high temperature test kiln or Wall-of-Burners to traditional kilns of all makes and sizes including that which can be loaded with a forklift. 10 Gas Kilns vary from 2 to 60 cu. ft., and are updraft, downdraft, soda, and raku, etc. 10 Electric Kilns ranging from small test or 16.5 cu. ft. oval to a frontloading. We also have an experimental kiln pad with an 18 cu. ft. catenary arch wood kiln.

Ceramics student at workCasting and Mold Making

The Mold Making lab is equipped with plaster lathes, band saws, vibrating table, vacuum chamber, and 20 cu. ft. drying boxes, etc. Our Casting Lab is equipped with blunger mixers, RAM press, Shop-made hydraulic test press, and Shimpo jigger/jollier, etc. We also have a MakerBot 3D Printer (Prints Plastic and Slip) and clean space for making and designing models.

Material Research Lab

The Material Research Lab is maintained as a library, material collection, and laboratory with extensive industrial equipment for weighing, mixing, analyzing, processing and producing the entire spectrum of ceramics and glass materials.

Miscellaneous Equipment:

Our 6000+ sq. ft. shop is designed to offer support for the entire range of ceramic processes and materials, which houses everything from private office and studio spaces to separate laboratories such as that for casting, throwing, digital processes, research, and gallery project space, etc. In addition to that which is mentioned above we have an extensive array of hand tools and pneumatic and manual extruders, slab roller, large spray booth, large sand blaster, brick saw, log splitter, forklift, rock crusher, and four computer stations with a host of design software, decal printer, and digital vinyl cutter, etc.

Affiliated students may also get access to a complete metals and wood shops, vacuum forming machine, Dimension 3D Printer, MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D Printer, 2 Roland CNC Mills, large-bed Techno CNC router, multiple Universal laser cutters, large format printers, large format vinyl cutters, lighting studios, animation lab, and physical computing lab, etc.


ARTC 255 Ceramics {Topic} (4R)
Specific skills focus each term. Subjects include the processes related to design development, forming and fabrication, firing methods, glazing. R thrice for max 16 credits.

ARTC 355 Intermediate Ceramics {Topic} (4-5R)
Advanced processes and concepts. Areas of technical foucs include slip casting, glaze and decorator surface embellishment, architectural ceramic, low fire, and raku. Prereq: 3 terms of ARTC 255.

ARTC 459/559 Advanced Studio Forum (4-6R)
Combined studio and discussion for BFA and MFA students provides a forum for works in progress in the context of professional practice and contemporary critical thinking. Prereq: BFA or MFA standing.

ARTC 468 Glaze Fire I (6R)
Comprehensive instruction in firing theory and practice and elementary glaze chemistry. Students fire kilns and mix glazes in a studio component. Prereq: instructor's consent. R once for a maximum of 12 credits.

ARTC 469 Glaze Fire II (6R)
Discussion groups further examine the practices of firing and glaze formulation. Studio component involves increased firing and systematic, scientific glaze experimentation. Prereq: instructor's consent. R once for a maximum of 12 credits.

Visiting Artists

The Visiting Artist program is supported by the Department of Art and the Robert James Ceramics Endowment. Visiting artists work in a variety of ways and often come as the result of collaborations with other areas. Recent artists include Del Harrow, John Byrd, Michael Jones McKean, Katherine Ross, Paul Mathieu, Marek Cecula, Cynthia Bringle, Paulus Behrensohn, David Shaner, Don Reitz, Mary Barragan, Lana Wilson, Doug Jeck, and Mark Chatterley.


Brian Gillis

Brian Gillis

Ceramics Coordinator
Associate Professor, Art
Office: 202 Northsite B
(541) 346-2180


Ian McDonald

Adjunct Instructor, Ceramics

Jessica Swanson

Jessica Swanson

Career Instructor, Core, Ceramics and Sculpture
Office:  203 Wilkinson House
(541) 346-2105