Grant FAQs

Grant FAQs


How do I decide if I’m an early- or a mid-career artist? Is it possible to be pre-emerging?

For our purposes, unless you are still a student, pre-emerging artists are still emerging artists—maybe just on the earlier end of the spectrum. The jurors for each panel will ultimately decide what work and artistic potential to recognize with the emerging artist awards. There is no tenure limit on emerging artists. You can be emerging for 6 months or 6 years, or even more.

We embrace a broad definition of emerging artists, based on the guidelines of the Jerome Foundation (St. Paul, MN.) The Foundation supports emerging professional artists who are the principal creators of new work, and:

  • who take risks and embrace challenges;
    • whose developing voices reveal significant potential;
    • who are rigorous in their approach to creation and production;
    • who have some evidence of professional achievement but not a substantial record of accomplishment; and
    • who are not recognized as established artists by other artists, curators, producers, critics, and arts administrators.

At some point, artists pass a nebulous marker and become “mid-career,” from which point it is not possible to go back within a specific medium or genre. We follow the guidelines of the McKnight Foundation (Minneapolis, MN) when we define mid-career as a “sustained level of accomplishment, commitment, and excellence over a period of at least five years, through inclusion in major regional or national museum or gallery exhibitions, or juried or invitational craft shows, or receipt of other awards, grants, or fellowships.”

Finally, it is possible to be an accomplished artist in one field, such as sculpture or drawing, while still considered emerging in the field of ceramics.

I’m not sure if I’m qualified for this grant program. Should I still apply?

Absolutely, and for a few reasons:

  • We are often most critical of our work and ourselves. The jurors may see something entirely different when viewing your portfolio. For programs in which feedback is available after the jury decisions, it can be really helpful and encouraging to get that insight. You also get your name and resume in front of a well-qualified jury.
    • Second, having a large pool of applicants demonstrates demand to our funders and makes it more likely that these programs can continue, or even grow in funding.
    • Going through the process of applying (and leaving yourself a lot of time to get through it) is also incredibly helpful—from learning how to write and format your documents to how to resize and organize your files. We are available to review any proposal at least two weeks before the application deadline.

Am I eligible for your awards if I don’t have a college degree or my degree is not in art?

Yes, a formal background in ceramics is not a requirement for any of our awards. Applications are reviewed based on your portfolio and your record of achievement. With the exception of the Warren MacKenzie Advancement Award applicants may not be currently pursuing a degree and receive any of the awards. Current students and recent graduates are eligible for the WMAA.

What technical assistance is available to me as a resident?

We are unable to offer studio assistants to our resident artists. Our staff technicians are able to consult on our equipment and materials, and we are happy to put you in touch with our suppliers. We can also recommend local artists and students if you are interested in hiring an assistant.

Can I submit video instead of still images?

Yes, as long as the video is a work sample or documentation of an installation or physical work, and not a biographical piece, documentary, or process video. Our image guidelines stipulate 30 seconds exchange for 1 still image. Include the videos on your image list, and upload them to YouTube or Vimeo. Email video links to after submitting your application.

Who will review my work and what is the process?

For each of our panels, we select artists, curators, or educators with diverse backgrounds and interests. Whenever possible, we like to represent a functional potter, a sculptor or installation artist, and a curator/academic/gallerist on the panel. Images are projected on a screen and viewed one at a time.

For the McKnight programs, the written materials and images are shared with the jurors approximately two weeks before the convening. The panelists are instructed to review the materials and make notes about each; then we come together to review all of the images and begin discussion. Every complete application is viewed and discussed by the panel.

For the EAR programs, the applications are not shared in advance. The jury begins by reviewing images in person; then proceeds to discussing residency proposals, artist statements, and resumes. In all cases, jurors are directed to disregard any personal knowledge or experience they might have with any of the applicants. After reviewing all of the applications, the jury proceeds to successive rounds of elimination and discussion until we select the recipients and alternates (if applicable).

Does it help me to have some past experience with Northern Clay Center?

Past experience with NCC has no influence on the decision of the jury. Staff are forbidden from offering information about any applicant during the panel deliberations. Jurors are also directed to disregard any personal knowledge or experience they might have with any of the applicants. As a national and regional hub for ceramics, our staff and teaching artists often overlap with the applicant pool as allowed by the grant guidelines, but we do our absolute best to maintain strict compartmentalization when making these awards. As with any award, it is helpful to be familiar with our facilities, programs, and the goals of the grant program to which you are applying.

Do you have any short-term residencies?

We do not have a consistent program for short-term (less than three months) or summer residencies. Depending on other programs, we may have rental space available for four months, June – September. There are no funding or other amenities available with this space, which is licensed to artists through our Studio Artist Program. Contact us at for more details.

Is it better to show your most recent work, or your favorite/best pieces?

In general, your portfolio should probably be a combination of these things. Aim to build a portfolio that best supports your proposal.

  • Since the work of emerging artists can vary drastically over a short time frame, it is usually best to show the most recent work whenever possible.
    • More established artists might have a longer time-span in their portfolio, representing complete and sometimes aesthetically divergent bodies of work.
    • Within 10 images, aim to show no more than 3 or 4 bodies of work in a combination of individual pieces (or sets), detail images, and installation views where necessary. The jury is not looking for a long arc of development, but rather the interesting things that you are doing now, and the record of your past achievements.

Inset or composite images are discouraged.

Can I include work in my portfolio that is not ceramic?

Build a portfolio that best supports your proposal. If your work is heavily influenced by your photography, then it might be appropriate to include some finished photographs. Multimedia sculpture in which clay plays a large part, or is visually/conceptually related to your ceramic work is also acceptable to include. In most cases, unfinished work, sketches, or snapshots are not appropriate.

Do you provide housing for resident artists, or assistance finding housing?

For our short-term McKnight Resident Artists, we are usually able to find housing with one or two friends of NCC right in our neighborhood. This is, of course, dependent on the artists’ needs/tastes/allergies, etc. For year-long residencies, we are happy to suggest neighborhoods, pass along any rooms we hear about from friends, and weigh in on prices, etc. Fortunately, Minneapolis is large enough that people often have a friend of a friend who can lend a hand. Beyond this support, artists are responsible for finding and paying for their own housing.

Early Career Artist Residencies

How do I apply for the Fogelberg, Anonymous Artist, or BIPOC Studio Fellowships?

By submitting one application for the ECAR program, you can indicate which specific program or programs you intend to apply for. We will make each award depending on our guidelines for each fund, and the selections of the jury.

What is the difference between the Fogelberg and the Anonymous Artist Studio fellowships?

The positions are very similar, however, Fogelberg Fellowships are intended for artists in Minnesota working in a functional manner, who are interested in pursuing a career in studio pottery, while the AAS award is open to artists anywhere, both sculptors and potters. Each award is for a semi-private studio (shared with one other EAR artist) and a materials/firing stipend. The studios are furnished with tables, ware racks, stools/chairs, and pottery wheels if desired.

McKnight Fellowships

What type of work does the jury want to see?

We are committed to building a well-rounded jury that will advocate for any type of work, from figure sculpture to colorful installation, and from majolica to anagama-fired pottery. The program supports Minnesota artists who are making excellent work and whose careers would be enhanced by this recognition and opportunity.

McKnight Residencies

I am only available during the fall quarter of the grant year. How can I be sure I am awarded that time period if I am selected?

After the jury has determined the final awards, we contact each artist and discuss the best case scenario for the schedule. Ideally, some artists’ schedules are flexible and we can accommodate everyone. In the event that we are not able to fit your schedule, you must forfeit the award. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer the residency for future grant years.

Are international artists eligible for this award? Do you offer any special assistance or visa sponsorship?

International artists are encouraged apply. All recipients are responsible for their own travel costs and shipping any special tools or supplies that are not available at NCC. Return shipping of artwork is available up to an amount specified in the residency contract. NCC is not able to sponsor any visas.

Warren MacKenzie
Advancement Awards

What programs make me eligible for the “recent graduates” requirement?

We recognize that traditional university programs are not a fit for everyone and that a lot of good learning and experience can happen in other educational settings. For this particular award, you need to be currently enrolled in or within one year of completing a program of direct tutelage, probably in one setting or through one institution. Examples of this include any college or university program, post-baccalaureate programs, apprenticeships, etc. The program is open to folks beyond ceramics majors, but your proposal should be a ceramic project. If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact us at We may need to speak with your supervising faculty or studio head to get more details about your particular program.

Are there any programs that do NOT count?

Participating in a self-directed residency program does not extend the deadline past your most recent “graduation” or “completion” date. Likewise, establishing a studio or traveling and studying independently do not extend your eligibility. In most cases, community art classes and continuing education classes are also not eligible.

I would like to learn new techniques with an established artist, then come home and outfit my own studio. Can I use this grant to purchase equipment?

No more than 10% of your budget can be earmarked for equipment or supplies. We feel it is important to encourage and support diverse experiences in the world—independently and with other artists—in addition to supporting making practices and studio-building. These projects are often eligible for other funding through NCC (and elsewhere), whereas enriching experiences at this important stage of development might be harder to fund.

Can I use this grant to purchase clay and support an exhibition of my work?

The primary goal of this grant is to support a learning experience rather than the creation of new work. Any purchase of clay or equipment must be less than 10% of your total proposal budget (see above). If the result of your learning will be an exhibition, that’s a great goal, but the most attractive proposals will be engaging learning experiences tailored to your specific interests and opportunities.

How can I give back or show the results of my research?

Northern Clay Center requires that each recipient contribute in two ways: through regular updates to our social media (blog posts, photo journals, images, essays, etc.) and through a public presentation at an institute near you—this might be your college or university, or a local art center or museum. There is currently no requirement to produce new work to exhibit, and there is not, at present time, an exhibition at NCC of the recipients’ work.

How was this award formed? Does that impact the decisions regarding the awards?

In 2013, Northern Clay Center worked closely with former students and colleagues of Warren MacKenzie, who were interested in supporting an award to honor MacKenzie’s legacy of education, both traditional and non-traditional. After serving in the army and attending college at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, MacKenzie famously traveled to the Leach Pottery in England where he

was eventually accepted as an apprentice before returning to Minnesota to establish his home studio. MacKenzie taught at the University of Minnesota from 1952 to 1990 and made pots daily until he died at the age of 93. Although he and his students have established a strong lineage of functional potters (and teachers) around the country, his students make diverse work suited to their individual interests. We expect this award to fund all types of makers and place no limitations on the type of work the award will support.