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Eric Stearns
Eric Stearns BA, MFA
Associate Professor
Art and Design
College of Arts and Sciences



Artist Statement

Born and raised on a ranch near North Platte, Nebraska, I earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Professional Emphasis in 2003 from Doane University in Crete, Nebraska. After college, I opened my first studio, Stearns Ceramics, in North Platte, NE. After teaching full-time, as well as assisting my family on the ranch, I decided to commit more fully to my art and received a Master of Fine Arts at Fort Hays State University in 2008 studying under Linda Ganstrom.

Developing a professional level of proficiency on the potter's wheel while in graduate school, I devoted long hours and careful attention to the craft of pottery. Immersed in the academic art community, I absorbed lessons from potters and sculptors. Translating their concepts and techniques into my own style combined with my love of mathematical designs and the labor intensive craft of carving and piercing, my vessels are unique, intricate and elegant. Further inspired by contemporary art, I traveled to NCECA, (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) and SOFA, (Sculptural Objects and Functional Art) as well as various local exhibitions and conferences. These travels raised my expectations for my art and inspired me to strive to create the highest quality professional work in my field.

Finding harmony and relaxation while on the potter's wheel, I focus totally on the present and the craft of throwing, knowing that a second's distraction or inattention could result in the collapse of my extreme forms.  Challenging myself to build a vocabulary of various shapes and scales that will act as a canvas for my designs, each of my vessels are individually designed and executed to reflect my passion for high craft married with contemporary expression.

My work concentrates on precision vessels whose exterior forms have been mathematically pierced to create an interest to the interior. Attracting the viewer's gaze and sense of touch through the ever-changing relationship between light and dark, solid and permeable, smooth and rough, these vessels offer spiritual illumination through contemplation.


Teaching Philosophy

Throughout my career, I have had the fortunate experience of having studied under supportive, but challenging instructors who were makers as well as teachers. They fostered a creative and safe environment where students were free to express their uniqueness and diversity through art, as well as the opportunity to observe artists involved in their own professional careers. My insight into the philosophy underlying this creative environment has led me to develop principals that guide my teaching philosophy. 

My role as a classroom leader includes developing curriculum and lessons that develop creative thinking, problem solving, skill sets and critical evaluation of quality and learning experience. I foster independent creativity in a safe, welcoming environment, through encouraging open communication between all participants. I believe that a positive learning environment, a trusting student/teacher relationship, and being available for consultation and conversation during office hours and by appointment are also essential roles of the leader. Encouragement and constructive criticism by peers, as well as the teacher helps the student not only to strive for their personal best, but allows them to see their potential. My modeling of the dedication needed to be a studio artist allows the student to understand the time, energy and creative processes necessary to an artistic career and life.

I have developed a teaching skill set that includes: slide presentations, demonstrations, research instruction and sketch book development intended to inspire and expand their creative thought processes. By demonstrating numerous and varied ceramic skills including hand-building, wheel throwing, kiln construction, glaze calculation and mold making, I will build a solid technical foundation for my students to develop their voices in clay. Verbal communication, written self-evaluations, working critiques and demonstrations develop the student's insight into their own and other's artistic achievements. I believe that students need leadership and
guidance in the early stages of ceramic development, and that later they need to begin to figure out their own problems through personal research and development. By making class assignments and objectives clear throughout the entire semester, students will understand my expectations. I will strive to understand and assist them in their personal goals through: goal writing, discussion, encouraging them to travel to museums and galleries along with attending workshops and conferences, I will also provide additional opportunities to students interested in expanding their understanding of the national art scene.  

My ultimate goal is to bring professionalism, knowledge and excitement for ceramics into the classroom so that the student feels inspired and prepared to attain their educational goals.