AU Press Releases

Exhibition of Cushing's work summer feature at Schein-Joseph Ceramic Museum

An exhibition for the late renowned ceramic artist and Alfred University (AU) professor emeritus Val Cushing is on view 24 at the Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art, Binns-Merrill Hall through Aug. 8.

The exhibition features a selection of Cushing’s ceramic pieces loaned from his family’s personal collection as well as several from the museum’s permanent collection. The exhibit was organized by Susan Kowalczyk, the museum's collections manager.

Cushing, who died Nov. 17, 2013, earned both his bachelor of fine arts and master of fine arts degrees from AU’s School of Art and Design. He was a member of the ceramics faculty for 40 years, retiring in 1997.

Cushing is considered one of the foremost contemporary ceramic artists in the United States, and his pieces reflect the early history of ceramic art in Alfred. Using forms, colors, and textures inspired by nature, he created functional pottery and sculptural ceramic vessels including teapots, pitchers, plates, bowls and jars. He was known for his glazes and the clean lines and simplicity with which he explored the richness of surface in pottery.

In addition to teaching at the University, Cushing gave more than 250 lectures, workshops, and demonstrations around the world throughout his career. Even after his retirement, he was active in teaching and art. He was a regular guest lecturer on campus, sharing the history and growth of the College of Ceramics and School of Art and Design as well as overviews of his own work.

His pottery has been featured in more than 300 exhibitions and prestigious collections nationally and internationally, including the American Craft Museum in New York City, the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Renwick Gallery at The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and the Shigaraki Museum of Ceramics in Japan.

Cushing was a founding member and former president of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, as well as a Fellow of the American Craft Council. He was the recipient of several grants and awards, including the American Ceramic Society’s 1977 Ceramic Artist of the Year, State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the first-ever Alfred University Distinguished Service Award in 1981, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

The Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art at Alfred houses nearly 8,000 ceramic and glass objects, ranging from small pottery shards recovered from ancient civilizations to contemporary sculpture and installation pieces to advanced ceramics reflecting the cutting edge of ceramic technology. The museum is a teaching and research facility, one educational component of the College of Ceramics at Alfred University.