Professor says high ranking reflects the high quality of the program’s inquisitive, hard-working students
The graduate ceramics program at CU Boulder is ranked fifth in the nation, up from eighth last year, in US News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools 2017.
The ceramics program is one of eight University of Colorado Boulder programs to be ranked in the top 10 graduate specialty programs nationwide, but it is the only one of the CU Boulder group to hail from the arts and humanities. The other seven are in the natural sciences, engineering and education.Kim Dickey, professor of art and art history and one of three faculty members of the ceramics program (along with Associate Professor Jeanne Quinn and Professor Scott Chamberlin), is pleased with the ranking, released this spring, but does not take credit for it.
The ranking, she emphasizes, reflects the “success of our grads who have gone on to have great careers in the art world as well as in academia.” Those alumni are also the program’s best recruiters.
“If we can claim any responsibility, it is that we choose our graduates carefully, and then support them to the best of our ability, giving them a solid foundation from which to take risks, ask tough questions, and work extremely hard in the short time they are here,” Dickey says.
And the students seem to thrive here, she adds. “They come here to be challenged, stretch themselves as artists, and take advantage of the many resources this department and university has to offer. They are sponges, ready to soak it all in.”
If we can claim any responsibility, it is that we choose our graduates carefully, and then support them to the best of our ability, giving them a solid foundation from which to take risks, ask tough questions, and work extremely hard in the short time they are here."
Dickey describes ceramics as inherently interdisciplinary, intersecting with architecture, environmental design, the domestic, the decorative, the theatrical—“having applications for forms as diverse as drinking vessels to large-scale sculptural installation to architectural ornamentation to tiles for the Space Shuttle.”
Additionally, she notes, almost every civilization throughout history that had access to clay developed a ceramics tradition, meaning it has both a universal quality and enduring fascination.
“And it's just amazing to work directly with your hands with a material that doesn't enclose a form already; it's formless—potential in a lump.”
Dickey also extols the value of a graduate education in the arts, which not only requires that students develop “visual language” but also that they devote many hours in critiques with other artists and thinkers. This colloquy hones students’ skills in critical thinking and persuasive argument, she says.
“So our grads (and undergrads) come out of the program really conversant about the ideas that compel them and ready to engage in a meaningful exchange on the role the arts have to play in our world.”
Dickey’s work will be on display at a mid-career retrospective called Words are Leaves at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. The exhibition is scheduled from Oct. 16 through Jan. 11, 2017. Click here for more information about the graduate program in ceramics and here for more information about undergraduate ceramics study.