NCECA: Clay, Useful or Beautiful?

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by Mary Erickson, Ph.D.

and graduate student Colette Pecenka

The unit was developed in conjunction with a juried exhibition of student work sponsored by the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) opening in January 2009.

Preview the NCECA Exhibition PowerPoint


  • Theme in Life: We all like and dislike things for different reasons.
  • Theme in Art: Ceramic art can be judged both for its usefulness and its visual interest.


CompareWhat makes one artwork better than another?

LookHow do artists use shapes to add visual interest?

Community Connection
Clay is a kind of soil found all around the world. For thousands of years peoples in the northern Sonoran Desert have made vessels, beads, sculpture and even buildings from local clay. This mini unit explores the work of contemporary clay artists, whose sculptural works have roots in ceramics’ utilitarian traditions.


Pre-Visit Classroom Activity: Useful, Beautiful or Both?
TCA Activity: Exploring the NCECA Exhibition
Post-Visit Classroom Activity: Useful and Beautiful Pencil Holder
Exploring Clay (pdf)

Preview the NCECA Exhibition PowerPoint
Useful, Beautiful or Both? PowerPoint
Exploring the NCECA exhibition
Coil Pencil Holder PowerPoint
Vocabulary (pdf)

Web Resources
Celebrating Excellence in Ceramics – Secondary ceramics unit
Pueblo Grande Museum


Arizona State University Anthropology Museum; Jessica Joganic; Pueblo Grande Museum

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