Announcing the 2021 Emerging Artist Award Recipients

Each year, numerous courageous souls step up and apply for NCC’s Emerging Artist Awards, in hopes of capitalizing on the momentum they have gained in school, apprenticeships, community classes, or their individual studios. Every one of them is hoping to take the next step, challenge themselves, and forge their way in this world as an artist.

Northern Clay Center is pleased to continue to offer these Emerging Artist Awards. The life of NCC’s programming is always enriched by the annual contributions of new, creative energy entering our community. The 2021 spring award recipients from three of our grant programs include artists from the full spectrum of contemporary ceramic arts. NCC is committed to continue supporting artists at all stages of their careers.

Emerging Artist Residency Awards

The Emerging Artist Residency (EAR) Awards provide a furnished studio space for one year, plus a materials/firing stipend, a group exhibition in January and February 2023, employment opportunities, and other benefits. This year we awarded the 2021 Anonymous Artist Studio Fellowships to Persis Wade (Goshen, IN) and Jason Wang (Kansas City, MO). Our 2021 Fogelberg Studio Fellowship was awarded to Joel Willson (Arden Hills, MN).

We are grateful to a variety of institutional and individual donors, including secondary market sales through NCC’s sales gallery, for their support of these particular grant programs. The residencies will begin on September 1, 2021. We are excited to see the exchange of ideas in the studios with the residency program crossing boundaries of generation, material, origin, and approach.

About the Awardees:

Jason Wang

Teaching Artist Anonymous Artist Fellow 2021

Warren MacKenzie Advancement Award

Launched in 2014, the Warren MacKenzie Advancement Award (WMAA) honors the educational legacy of Warren MacKenzie. Recipients of the award can research a new technique or process, study with a mentor or in an apprenticeship setting, visit other ceramic art centers or institutions for classes and workshops, collaborate with artists of other media, and travel. The grant period is 12 consecutive months, from June 2021 to May 2022. One award was granted in 2021.

About the Awardee:

Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation Award

This award is made possible by the Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation, and is presented by Northern Clay Center to a deserving individual pursuing a career in pottery, or studying or researching the historical aspects of the pottery industry. The Foundation endeavors to broaden appreciation of pottery, past and present, for the general public and maintains the Red Wing Pottery Museum in Red Wing, Minnesota.

About the Awardee:

BISQUE Residency Award

BISQUE stands for Believe, Include, Sustain, Question, Understand, and Evolve. BISQUE is also a metaphor for makers in the early stages of development. NCC is proud to announce the second recipient of this experimental residency program, which is inspired by our desire to cultivate new voices in the field. As a community-based ceramic art center, we are in a unique position to have access to pre-emergent talent and the BISQUE Residency will offer time, space, and professional development resources, plus participation in a group exhibition in January and February 2023. The future of this program will be dependent upon funding.

About the Awardee:

Z Kaplan

Teaching Artist BISQUE Resident 2021

The 2021 jurors for the Emerging Artist Residencies and the Warren MacKenzie Advancement Award included:

Claudia Alvarez (New York, NY), is a ceramic sculptor and educator who received her BFA from University of California, Davis and MFA from California College of Arts (San Francisco). Through both her 2D and ceramic work, she addresses the way social, political, and psychological structures impact behavior and personal interaction. Her sculptures of children imbue adult characteristics and mannerisms to address issues relating to violence, empowerment, endurance, and what they reveal about human nature.

Alvarez has received numerous awards and attended residencies both nationally and internationally. Through her career, her works have been seen on exhibit and added to the permanent collections of myriad locations, including El Museo Latino (Omaha, NE), National Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago, IL), Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, NE), Pelham Art Center (NY), Keramik Museum (Berlin, Germany), FUTUR (Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland), Blue Lear Gallery (Dublin, Ireland), and the Edward Hopper House and Study Center (Nyack, NY).

Ashwini Bhat (Petaluma, CA) is a ceramic artist who was born in southern India and currently both lives and works in the Bay Area in California. She holds an MA in literature and had an earlier career in classical Indian dance before beginning her work in clay. Her work and artistic voice developed at various academic and residency venues including Golden Bridge Pottery (Pondicherry, India), Tin Shed Pottery (Tasmania, Australia), FuLe International Ceramic Art Museum (Fuping, China), UMASS Dartmouth (New Bedford, MA), and Red Lodge Clay Center (Red Lodge, MT).

Exploring the deep relationship between the human and non-human, between the constructed and the inherited, her work invites viewers to interact with the revealed and the hidden. Bhat’s work has been exhibited and permanently installed internationally at venues such as Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park (Japan), Newport Art Museum (RI), Clayspace Gallery (Ashville, NC), Arch Contemporary Ceramics (Tiverton, RI), StarWorks (Star, NC), and Lacoste Gallery (Concord, MA).

For over 20 years, Joe Singewald (Cold Spring, MN) has pursued a passion for clay that began when he first started making pots in high school. He received his BFA from University of Wisconsin–River Falls and an MFA from Utah State University (Logan). He currently serves as a teaching artist and technical manager at Saint John’s University (Collegeville, MN), and is a studio potter. In addition to being featured in various publications and periodicals, Singewald’s work has also been exhibited and represented at venues across the United States including Red Lodge Clay Center (Red Lodge, MT), Archie Bray Foundation (Helena, MT), The Clay Studio (Philadelphia, PA), Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago, IL), and TRAX Gallery (Berkeley, CA).

Congratulations to each of our award recipients! Please watch our website and our winter 2022 newsletter for future deadlines for these grant programs and others. If you would like to have a presentation on our grant programs at your school or institution, please reach out to Kyle Rudy-Kohlhepp at

And a special thank you to all of the 2021 applicants—your interest in the grant programs and your applications help keep our arts economy strong by demonstrating the great talent, need, and diverse work that is present—from Minnesota and beyond.