Why Grad School | Naomi Clement | Episode 378

Naomi Clement | Episode 378

Naomi Clement is an artist and educator who explores ideas of home and belonging through the powerful lens of functional ceramics. She received her MFA from Louisiana State University in 2017, and her B.F.A from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University in 2003. Naomi has exhibited her work throughout the U.S. and Canada, and was recently named a 2017 Emerging Artist by Ceramics Monthly magazine.






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What makes a good MFA program?

I looked into a lot of different MFA programs. I think it was Pete Pinnell at the University of Nebraska who gave me the best advice. He said there are the four Fs of grad school and this is in the order of importance. The first one is FACULTY, you want to go somewhere where there is great faculty and that is different depending on who you are. Number two is FELLOW students. You want to go somewhere where there are great fellow students because the reality is you are going to spend all your time with those students. FUNDING- everyone has a different financial reality and what they can manage. And number four was FACILITIES. You needed to have the bare minimum facilities to be able to make the work you need to make. That is different for everyone, you shouldn’t make a decision just based on facilities.

What makes a good MFA student?

I think curiosity and a willingness to take risks and make crappy work. And go through the  mud (excuse the pun) to get through to the other side and find their own voice. Going into it with the right intentions. I think a lot of people go to grad school just to get the piece of paper and they are trying to just get shows and increase their CV while they are there. I think it is important to be there to ask questions about your work.

What kind of attitude does a person need to have to be a good grad student?

I am sure there are lots of different answers on that. Again, the curiosity thing. I think with anything, any job, no matter what it is, I think you always want to be one of those people who is just ready to roll up your sleeves and get it done. Even if it is, quote, unquote,  not in your job description. Being a good grad student you need to be a team player. It is a small community that we live in and I think you need to be part of a team and contribute and give back to the community.

What makes a good faculty?

I think  good faculty asks the hard questions and I think good faculty don’t give you the answers. Once of my faculty members, Andy Shaw, his studio visits were always great, but they always left me more perplexed than when I started them. He asks really great questions that made me think and pushed things to the next level and was very observant.

How important is volunteering for the clay community?

I think it is essential and that is something I love about the clay community is how we do really help each other out and work together on things. I try and give back when I can.

How important has it been for your career to be involved with NCECA?

It was more just a really great experience for me personally as I have never been on a board at that level before. Seeing the ins and outs of a large non-profit like that really kind of opened my eyes to the different possibilities there were professionally in the field. So in that way it was really invaluable.

What would be the perfect job for you?

I have been thinking a lot about that question. That is a tough one. I would love something that was closer to family and I would love to either teach part-time or work at some kind of community arts organization, maybe thirty hours a week and have a studio the rest of the time.


Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl



Instagram: @naomikclement

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