How did I end up in Hungary this semester? That’s a very good question, and it’s one I get asked quite often here.
The answer is tri-fold:
1) I didn’t study abroad as an undergrad and I’ve always regretted it. Both of my older sisters spent semesters elsewhere (one in Puerto Rico and one in Australia). They both loved their time in these other places. This semester is kind of – well, not kind of – it is my last shot to have my own semester abroad. This spring I’ll be working fiendishly on my thesis show and report, so it won’t be possible to be anywhere other than UMass-Dartmouth. And then the plan is to graduate, so it follows that there won’t be any more study abroad opportunities!
2) I know the current director of the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China. (Eric Kao, a UMassD grad: MFA Ceramics, 2009.) I saw him at NCECA (national ceramics conference) last year and he mentioned that he thought it would be great for UMassD to have some sort of an exchange with his program. When we spoke, I was really busy, so I didn’t really take time to immediately think about his suggestion.
3) After final reviews last May, I had some time to reflect on the year, and I thought, “Hey, maybe I should take Eric up on that offer, and see if I can study abroad in China for a semester.” I love porcelain just a little bit, as I’m sure you can tell from the byline of this blog, and Jingdezhen is referred to as the porcelain capital of the world. It has a 1,700 year history with the material. Pretty Amazing. But then I had some health issues (everything’s fine now) and I decided China was maybe not the best place for me to be at this point in time. I still wanted to study abroad though, so after talking to my adviser, I decided to apply here, to the International Ceramics Studio of Hungary. This place also has a strong history with porcelain (not nearly 1,700 years, but still good); I believe this is largely due to its proximity to the Herend Porcelain factory.
So, here I am! I’m grateful to have this opportunity and I’d like to thank everyone at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth for making it possible. Instrumental in the process have been: Profs. Jim Lawton, Susan Hamlet, and Deborah Carlson, Dr. Memory Holloway, Artisanry Department Chair Alan Thompson, as well as Dean Adrian Tio and Assistant Dean Heather Bentz. I’d also like to thank my fellow graduate students at UMD in ceramics and many other departments for their support.
UMass-Dartmouth’s College of Visual and Performing Arts is home to many talented, hardworking, and kind professors, administrators, and students. I remember being amazed when I first got here at the depth of skill and originality shown in the undergraduate and graduate work, across all departments. This is a school where the students are encouraged to find their own voice and make their own work, something I think is somewhat rare in universities. I can quite honestly say that this program has shaped who I am, what I make, and how I regard the act of making.
Want to see some work by some UMass affiliates? (Sorry if I link to you and you don’t want me to! Email me and I’ll take it off. Also email if I didn’t link you and you want to be linked.)