MICA's Ceramics Department provides a highly individualized course of study within an atmosphere of strong community. It strives to foster the development of a student's personal voice through engagement with the media as a point of departure towards experimentation and exploration. The ceramics curriculum supports the development of technical skills within a framework of innovation and interdisciplinary thinking. Students are involved with the traditions and contemporary trends in the ceramic medium and actively engaged in critical inquiry. Immersed in this rich intellectual environment, students understand themselves within the landscape of contemporary art and culture, and through the study and research of ceramics, they learn and explore its incredibly varied role in fine and applied arts, industry, and design. The development of confidence in one's own ideas is stressed as the critical motive that drives the means and methods of making meaningful work. Students bring their strong personal convictions to class to learn from each other and the College's resident and visiting artists.
Ceramics core requirements help build competence, moving from structured learning to increasing levels of independent research and self-direction. The Ceramics Department works closely with the other departments in sculptural studies and across the institution and encourages its majors to explore their work through a wide variety of media. Elective choices in sculptural studies, as well as the generous number of open studio electives in the major provide opportunities for interdisciplinary work and the healthy exchange of ideas among all areas of the College. Ceramics elective courses provide focused, thematic, or technical options, and experiences ranging from the traditional to industrial processes, from the archaic to the newest in technologies.
In the junior year, ceramics majors join with the majors of the other departments in the sculptural studies area – fiber and interdisciplinary sculpture – to take Junior Seminar. The curriculum culminates with a capstone experience that combines a critically written senior thesis and artist's statement, professional development, and the creation of a thesis body of work. The year-long Senior Thesis and Seminar (12 credits for the year) grows out of a student's own research and direction and culminates with their participation with seniors from the sculptural studies area to participate in the College-wide Commencement Exhibition.
Internships are encouraged, with the most popular at Baltimore Clayworks. Advanced students are encouraged to participate in the ceramics world at large, including attending national ceramics conferences such as the National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts.
The 6,000-square-foot ceramics facility consists of a spacious studio work area with separate senior studios. Adjoining the studio is a well-ventilated clay mixing and storage room and a glaze preparation and application area. Other specialty equipment includes two pneumatic extruders, a mold-drying cabinet, and an area for mold making and slip casting. The department's kiln room features 12 electric kilns, including a glass-slumping kiln; several small test-fire kilns; six 7-cubic-foot kilns; a 17-cubic foot tall sculpture kiln; and a 21-cubicfoot large kiln. The department has two Bailey gas kilns purchased in 2004, a 12-cubic-foot downdraft, and a 31-cubic-foot downdraft shuttle kiln as well as a state of the art, computer controlled 80-cubic foot Blaauw Gas Kiln. Raku firings are done in two 8-cubic-foot kilns in the department's outdoor courtyard area. Wood firing opportunities are regularly scheduled at off-campus facilities. The department also maintains a research room that houses a reference library of images (digital and slides), books, magazines, computer facilities, equipment for photographing artwork, and a seminar area.