Minnesota New Institute for Ceramic Education

Now entering its seventh year, MN NICE is a rigorous program developed in collaboration with Program Head Ursula Hargens. MN NICE provides personalized professional development for artists who are serious about taking the next step in their ceramic evolution. The program is designed to respond to the changing needs of emerging makers with high-level training and mentorship in ceramic materials, history and theory, and professional practice. Through innovative instruction and individual mentorship, artists build skills, knowledge, and insight.

MN NICE includes weekly intensives as well as artist lectures, gallery tours, and studio visits with established artists to take advantage of the rich ceramic resources throughout the Twin Cities. The program strives to support emerging artists both artistically and professionally.

The program consists of three 8-week blocks, beginning in September and ending in May. During each block, the group meets for weekly seminars and visits to museums, galleries, artist studios, and lectures. Throughout the year, participants have individual coaching sessions with leading professionals in the field, helping them to focus their research and development of work. The program culminates with the submission of a portfolio and a group exhibition in NCC’s Emily Galusha Gallery.

If you have questions about the history of MN NICE or joining next year's cohort, please make Samantha Longley, Education Coordinator your first point of contact at samanthalongley@northernclaycenter.org or call her directly at 612.339.8007 x309

Get updates about MN NICE visiting artists, and events on the NCC blog. 

Click here to access the application form.

Listen to a conversation between program head, Ursula Hargens and a couple members of the first MN NICE cohort on Ben Carter's Tales of a Red Clay Rambler Podcast.


The Schedule

MN NICE begins with a weekend orientation session to introduce methods, concepts, and conversations that the group will pursue throughout the year.

The MN NICE program is comprised of three, 8-week cycles:

  • Late-September through late-November, ending before Thanksgiving
  • January – February
  • April – May, ending before Memorial Day

Intersessions (December, March, summer months) are times for concentrated studio work. Certificates of Completion are awarded in November, and the group’s final exhibition is held in NCC’s Emily Galusha Gallery.

During each 8-week block, participants convene on Mondays at NCC for a 5-hour seminar consisting of lecture and discussion. (Note: the annual schedule is always discussed with participants before being confirmed). The seminar includes ceramic science, history and theory, professional practice, and technical development. 

Additionally, the group meets weekly to attend enrichment activities such as artist lectures, gallery tours, and studio visits with established artists. MN NICE artists have 10 individual studio visits with Affiliated Artists throughout the program year (three visits in each of Blocks 1 and 2, and four visits in Block 3). Through meetings with experienced professionals, who are both mentors and artists. Makers learn to articulate their individual choices, the relevance of their processes, and the content of their work. In addition to 7+ hours of direct weekly contact, participants are expected to work in the studio approximately 15+ additional hours per week and are also asked to complete weekly readings and research.

To complete the program, individuals participate in a final group exhibition and submit a portfolio consisting of 20 images, artist statement, artist biography, resume, and professional goals. In the final months, participants have two additional consultation hours with professionals in the field, intended to help guide their transition from the program. NICE participants are annually invited to attend American Pottery 
Festival as our guest, including the opening night party, 
weekend workshops, and artist talks. 

Affiliated Artists
MN NICE Fees & Payments

The fee for each of the three, 8-week sessions is $1650. There is a registration fee of $200, which will be applied to the first bill. This deposit is non-refundable. Otherwise, payments of $550 are due monthly for nine months. Separate fees apply to participants who are renting studio space and/or firing at NCC.


MN NICE is for emerging makers with a minimum of 2 to 3 years of clay experience, and it is open to clay artists of all ages from around the world. Participants do not need a prior degree in ceramics, but since this program is not demonstration-based, makers should feel confident and independent in their studio skills. Participants should be at a point in their studio practice where they can work independently, conceive of and execute a project to completion, and are open to critique and development of their work. They need the time to commit to 7+ weekly hours to the cohort and an additional 15+ hours in their studio. Participants are required to have access to a studio space and kiln (either at NCC or off-site) for the duration of the program

Application Deadline

There is no fee to apply to MN NICE. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. The following materials must be submitted online:

  • A completed application form
  • 10–20 images of work made within the last 3 years
  • An image list that includes artist’s name, date of work, dimensions of work, and medium
  • A current resume
  • An artist statement
  • An essay (500 words) answering the question, “How is this program valuable to you at this stage of your ceramic career?”

The priority deadline for MN NICE applications is June 1. We will continue to review applications after the deadline and encourage applicants to submit at any time. All application forms and materials must be submitted through northernclaycenter.org. Application materials submitted by June 1 will be reviewed and applicants will be notified by early July. Deposits for the September start date are due by August 1.

For all questions and inquiries, please contact Samantha Longley at 612.339.8007 x309 or samanthalongley@northernclaycenter.org

Request More Information

Request a complete information packet, which includes further details regarding:

  • Schedule and Program Descriptions
  • Studio & Facility Information
  • Complete Application & Fee Information

Email Kyle Rudy-Kohlhepp at kylerudyk@northernclaycenter.org or call 612-339-8007 x314.

Meet the Current Cohort
Liane Bromer: 2020 Paola Evangelista: 2020 Mariah Greenhoff: 2020 Billy Hicks: 2020
Rylie Lawrence: 2020 Joy Newmann: 2020 Marni Oberpriller: 2020 Chris Salas: 2020
Brent Titcomb: 2020 Sydney Willcox: 2020    


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