Visual ArtsObject Design Ceramics

Collage image of student working on the potter’s wheel, flames from a kiln, sculpting techniques and cart with pottery.

Mold your future.

Capitalizing on Design Thinking, our courses immerse you in all aspects of ceramics from commercial application to studio artist. Our degree track adds real world action, pushes surface, focuses on production or narrative sculpture and inspires your creative voice throughout. What story will you tell?

Career opportunities include: studio owner/artist, teacher, serveware designer, glaze chemist, mold maker, ceramic technician/equipment designer, commercial ceramic supplier.

Important Dates

Portfolio Reviews

Check-in for each audition or portfolio review will be at Terry Concert Hall.


Intent causes change. With our emphasis on first-hand experience, you will participate in a variety of opportunities to develop knowledge in the field so you can find your place in the ceramic community before you graduate. Engaged problem solving, design thinking, exhibition opportunities, attendance at professional conferences, collaborative projects, and public outreach distinguishes your artistic voice from day one. Working with visiting artists and group projects develops your career network. Grow it with us.

Morgan in the sculpture studio

BFA or BA with concentration in Object DesignBuild your tomorrow, make a difference

The object design program is looking for students with a distinctive vision for their future. Nurturing the confidence and expertise to pursue a career in the arts is at the heart of the curriculum. Our majors, double-majors or minors get an exclusive educational experience that builds a contemporary understanding of art on a foundation of professional experience and traditional skills.


Tiffany LeachProfessor of Art, Department Chair and Director of MFA in Visual Arts

Tiffany is an educator, practicing artist and researcher in the field of ceramics. Professional highlights include:

  • Selected for the C.R.E.T.A. Rome artist residency in Rome, Italy
  • Selected to present at NCECA in consecutive conferences and two Concurrent exhibitions
  • Artwork selected for the DuBol Exhibition International in Lille, France
  • Acquisitions in corporate, private and university collections
  • Presented research and chaired panel discussion at SECAC conferences
  • Over 90 exhibitions, workshops and lectures at the regional, national and international audience

Dana C. Tupa Associate Dean; Professor of Art in Ceramics

Dana is an educator, artist, sculptor, studio owner and administrator. Professional highlights include:

  • Award winning artwork responds to memory ephemerality
  • Credited by American Quilt Society with 1st clay exhibit of avant-garde art quilts
  • Over 130 shows, workshops and lectures to regional and national audiences
  • Recipient of State Artist Grants, Purchase Prizes and Awards of Excellence
  • Acquisitions in museums, public art, university and corporate collections
  • Three-peat Concurrent Exhibitions at NCECA
  • 20-year signed gallery artist

Art ScholarshipsWant a scholarship?

The Department of Visual Arts offers scholarships based on the creative merit and potential for growth you demonstrate with your portfolio. To be eligible, you have to create or have already created a portfolio, and you have to submit it either electronically or in person at one of our portfolio review s. Review our portfolio review dates, and then check out our tips on creating a digital portfolio that more than fulfills our requirements, plus how to save your portfolio as a PDF.

Student in the ceramics studio surrounded by ceramic and glass artwork.


Our facilities boast 14 Brent wheels, three hand-building stations, pugmill, Soldner clay mixers, electric kiln room, gas kilns, raku kilns, woodkiln, sagger and pit-firing area, teaching collection gallery and a full glaze chemistry lab.

  • Exposure to a broad number of artistic and academic experiences
  • Award-winning faculty (multiple skill sets in clay, significant national exhibition records, public art experience and studio practices)
  • Majors get personal studio spaces
  • Contemporary and traditional processes
  • Liberal Arts context and class sizes capped at 12
  • Pre-professional training at sophomore level (Foundations Capstone course)
  • Three formal feedback reviews (sophomore, junior and senior levels)
  • Capstone Senior Thesis project (speech/writing components, research and exhibition)
  • Multiple opportunities to present research at the national level
  • Learn to network the NCECA conference through annual attendance
Ceramic students unloading a wood kiln and placing the artwork on transport ware cart shelves.

Visiting Artists

We welcome visiting artists in ceramics to share their specialties in sculpture, functional wares, kiln knowledge and glaze processes.

John Oles

Associate Professor of Ceramics at Jacksonville State University

John believes truth and insight into our own human nature can be revealed through the process of creating with our hands. His vessels and functional forms honor the tradition and familiarity of the domestic object in their ability to enrich lives through daily use

Ceramic sculpture of iceberg vessel by artist John Oles.

Taylor Robenalt

Artist and Educator

Taylor is an instructor at the Ringling College of Art and Design. Her work has been exhibited in many high-profile national exhibitions, and she has participated in numerous artist residencies both domestically and abroad. Taylor is also the co-founder of a sculpture collective called Ceramic Sculpture Culture.


Ceramic Sculpture of goose rabbit fox and flower animals by artist

John Donovan

Ceramic artist and Educator

After a twenty-one year career in higher-education, lead designer and potter John Donovan knows how to make clay work. John has long been recognized for his award-winning ceramic sculpture (including receiving an honorable mention at the Third World Ceramic Biennale in Icheon, South Korea) and is represented by LeMieux Galleries in New Orleans and Zeitgeist Art Gallery in Nashville.

Large scale ceramic sculptures of personified animal forms along with artist John Donovan.

Amy Sanders

Studio artist

Amy’s earthenware vessels create a balance of form, texture and pattern with utility. She currently works as a studio artist, and conducts workshops across the United States.

Row of vibrant colored ceramic coffee mugs created by artist Amy Sanders.

Visual Art Programs

The School of Art & Design offers several other programs of study. Learn more about the programs available at Jacksonville University.

All Visual Arts Programs