Ball State University Ceramics
Ball State’s art major (BFA) with a focus on ceramics provides comprehensive training in clay aesthetics while emphasizing complex vessel construction, figural sculpture, glaze design, and a broad range of firing options.
Our ceramics concentration offers a broad education in the ceramic arts. The studio environment is one where vessel aesthetics like form and surface design are taught alongside ceramic sculpture. To foster an understanding of historical and contemporary practices in ceramics, students are exposed to a variety of experiences including numerous visiting artists, attendance to a national conference, museum trips, and visits to artists’ studios and various galleries. You are encouraged to apply for artist residencies at ceramics centers around the country.
We engage with the local artistic communities by hosting pottery sales, volunteering for events, submitting to exhibitions, and conducting community workshops and charity events.
Art professor Ted Neal’s students leave Ball State with more than a solid understanding of ceramics.
As a national expert on building kilns, Neal knows how to harness fire for creative purposes, and he passes that knowledge onto his students.
Kiln building is a really unique part of our program. There aren’t many other programs that have that in their curriculum. So, to have that is one of our strengths.
Neal has built more than 100 kilns for other universities, studios, and art centers. His craftsmanship encompasses various kiln styles, and he’s even built pizza ovens.
Born and raised in rural upstate New York, Neal earned his BFA from Utah State University and MFA from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
His ceramic work, which combine utility and self-expression, has been featured in numerous exhibitions. Neal said he was most satisfied with his vessel creations when they serve both as useful objects “and also embodies loftier ideas such as beauty, connectedness and shared kinesthetic experiences.”
As an artist, Neal explores how humans consume—and overconsume—natural resources. So, it should come as no surprise, then, that he helps other artists and art programs develop kilns and studios that are energy efficient.
Above all, though, Neal cares about the success of his students at Ball State, where he has taught since 2006.
Teaching a full range of ceramics techniques and aesthetics, Neal also shows students how building their own kilns on a budget can help them establish their studios and find clients and customers quickly. Commercial kilns are expensive, Neal said, and out of reach for many young artists.
Beyond kiln building, Neal’s students also get a healthy dose of instruction about the importance of being involved in their communities and building a social network. They develop these skills first-hand through pottery sales and other events that benefit local non-profits.
Muncie, Neal pointed out, has a rich heritage of ceramics. Muncie Pottery was founded in 1919 and produced beautiful art deco and arts and crafts ceramics that are still highly sought be collectors, and the tradition continues to thrive with Made in Muncie Pottery, a contemporary pottery studio and gallery space in downtown Muncie.
“There is no such thing as a successful artist that doesn’t engage their community,” he said.
The Ball State University Ceramics Exhibit will be on display at the Jay County Campus of Arts Place from September 6 – October 8, with a reception on September 22 from 5 PM – 7 PM. Please call 260-726-4809 for more details or with any questions.