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March 03, 2015

Ceramics designers learned skills, gained confidence at CIA

Five questions for Nicci Winrock and Neal Barman

Ceramics designers learned skills, gained confidence at CIA

They were a little jealous when they saw the equipment now available to CIA Ceramics students, but Nicci Winrock ’02 and Neal Barman ’03 enjoyed their February visit to campus anyway. The couple presented a visiting artist talk about their Rochester, NY, business, N2 Clay Studio, which they launched using their wedding money. Below, Nicci reflects on their visit and their CIA education.

You produce an incredible range of work, from decorative and functional pieces for the home to historic replicas to art installations. Are you both full-time ceramic artists?

We both work full time in the studio in conjunction with working part time (Neal is a freelance landscape designer and I work for a high-end design studio). Our part-time jobs directly connect us with interior designers, contractors, and the local community in ways that we could not if we didn’t step out of the studio.

Did you leave CIA with most of the skills you needed to develop all these lines?

Absolutely. CIA provided us with a well-rounded foundation in design, strong technical ceramic background, and the professionalism needed to present ideas to our clients.

Looking back on your CIA education, what did you gain or learn that benefits you most — more than anything else — in your careers to this day?

Every single class and every single professor we worked with at CIA has provided us with useful lessons that we reflect on frequently. Above anything else learning how to think critically and have the confidence to collaborate with others on a creative level. This applies not only to our careers but to our ability to work with each other as artists, acknowledging that we both have our strengths and weaknesses. This helps to create balance and fertile ground in the studio.

You recently came back to CIA as visiting artists. Did you enjoy your visit and what did you think of the work you saw by current Ceramics majors?

The visit was incredible! We could not believe all of the positive changes happening in and around campus. It was really wonderful to see all of the ceramic majors fully utilizing and experimenting with a wide variety of firing techniques that are available to them. We are just a little jealous that there is now a wood-fired kiln and decal printing available, seriously awesome.

What advice do you have for young people interested in ceramic art?

Take as many internships as possible. Working alongside other professional ceramicists and designers will give you further insight into which direction most interests you. Becoming a professional ceramist is not going to happen overnight—create a long-term plan and pace yourself.

For more on N2 Clay Studio, click here.

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