M.F.A. Ceramic Students, Sturgess and Stone, Shine at this Year’s Virtual NCECA Conference

Posted On April 29, 2020
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The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) is “an organization that engages and sustains a community for ceramic art, teaching, and learning.” Founded in 1966, it’s conference has become the world’s largest event in the field of ceramics. Each spring, our faculty and graduate and undergraduate students travel to a new city to attend the conference with the money they tirelessly raised throughout the year during SLIPS club sales. Our GSU ceramics group does not just attend the conference for the multitude of talks, networking opportunities, and workshops, but they too are on panels, giving lectures, exhibiting work, and running a booth for our Welch program. Unfortunately, the 2020 conference, schedule for this spring in Richmond, VA had to move exhibitions online in light of COVID-19 safety concerns. This did not stop them from awarding and recognizing young talent and impressive work made by Georgia State students, R.J. Sturgess and Kourtney Stone.

Both Stone and Sturgess were accepted into the highly-selective 2020 NCECA Juried Student Exhibition, a cornerstone exhibition open to students currently in higher education programs throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. More than 300 artists submitted a total of nearly 1,000 images (a record for submissions) for consideration by jurors ceramic artists Virginia Scotchie and Salvador Jiménez-Flores, but only 5o were selected. The work selected is meant to represent the way students are thinking and making across the continent. Kourtney Stone received the Second Place Exhibition Award overall!

R.J. Sturgess

That time my mom told me if it weren’t for me she would have
Stoneware, glaze, fur, lumber, and hardware
22″ x 35″ x 28″
40 pounds


Kourtney Stone

Bodily Memories From My Mom’s Side
Earthenware, glass, found objects, textiles, underglaze, and wax
52″ x 16″ x 22″
28 pounds

Kourtney Stone

Great-Grandpa Darrell the Magnanimous
Earthenware, glass, found object, underglaze, wax, and resin
35″ x 14″ x 13″
23 pounds

To view the exhibition catalogue, visit the NCECA Student Exhibition website here. 

In addition to exhibiting with the student show, Sturgess curated a group exhibition titled, “Laughing in Clay,” featuring ten ceramic artists, exploring the nuanced versatility of humor.

More about R.J. Sturgess:

RJ Sturgess is a mixed-media sculptor living and working in Atlanta, Georgia. Sturgess was raised in Mayfield, New York, a small town nestled in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. His work has been featured and has received recognition and awards in national and international exhibitions such as the 2020 NCECA National Juried Student Exhibition. In 2012, Sturgess graduated with his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics and a Bachelor of Science in Metals and Jewelry from Buffalo State College and he received his Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics from the Welch School of Art at Georgia State University in 2020. Sturgess is currently an Instructor of Record at Georgia State University and maintains an active studio practice.

Sturgess ’s mixed-media sculptures put at play combinations of biomorphic ceramic forms and fragmented elements of domestic space to provoke discomfort and embrace the perspective that flaws are part of what it means to be human.

More about Kourtney Stone:

Originally from central Pennsylvania, Kourtney Stone attended Maryland Institute College of Art, earning her BFA in Ceramics and MA in Teaching.  For the next six years she worked in the Baltimore area as a high school art teacher and dean. During this time, Kourtney continued to show her art and received numerous awards for her work. She also served as a board member of the Clay Connection. In addition, Kourtney has presented at Mid-Atlantic Clay Conference, NCECA, MAEA, and the Figurative Association Symposium at Arrowmont. She has been a resident artist at Baltimore Clayworks, Arrowmont’s Pentaculum, and Watershed, and Kourtney was a visiting artist at Lebanon Valley College. She has received many scholarships and grants, including the Welch Fellowship at Georgia State University and the NCECA Graduate Fellowship. Currently, Kourtney is an MFA candidate at Georgia State University.

Stone’s work examines the psychology of memory, perception, and the passage of time through the lens of her familial relationships. Much like in our memories, specific details in the sculptures emerge with clarity, while others fade into the haze of forgotten synapses. Through the composition of these elements, she  contemplates our constructions of the past and present: family mythologies, autobiographical narratives, and her impressions of current relationships.

To read the story on last year’s NCECA involvement, visit here.