CSULB Center for Contemporary Ceramics (CCC)

The CSULB Center for Contemporary Ceramics (CCC) is a combined entity and site committed to the mission of fostering exchange, inquiry, creative production, and learning beyond the curriculum among CSULB Ceramic Arts faculty and a highly diverse group of students, visiting artists and scholars, and artists in residence, with a goal of inspiring and empowering all participants to expand the limits of their own work to the benefit of both the participants in our community and the broader community and field of contemporary ceramics.

Located in the same building on our campus, the center operates in conjunction and constant collaboration with the Ceramic Arts Program, which provides focused and expansive instruction in the ceramic arts for undergraduate and graduate students. The synergy of this innovative center with a studio program long known for excellence is the basis of a dynamic learning and making community, and further establishes CSULB as a force and a destination in the fields of contemporary ceramic arts and ceramic arts education.

Though the formal establishment of the CCC is recent, the kinds of activities that define the center have been going on in the CSULB Ceramic Arts area for over three decades as part of a culture of education and experience beyond the curriculum cultivated by Professor Tony Marsh. Over the years, our guest artists and scholars have participated in collaboration and exchange with our students and faculty in a variety of ways:

  • Giving lectures and demonstrations;
  • Participating in critiques and studio visits, conducting special short-term classes, and leading experimental workshops;
  • Working in both short-term and long-term residencies alongside our students;
  • Participating in special work-intensive programs in which multiple guest artists work as a group in our studios for two weeks to two months alongside our students;
  • Working both on- and off-site on ceramic projects with the consultation, assistance, and/or collaboration of CSULB Ceramic Arts students and faculty.

These activities both benefit students with life-changing exposure to intellectual and creative role models, and benefit the broader field of contemporary ceramic arts by providing a hub of community, a forum for expanded discourse, and a site for advanced creative production. On November 15, 2017, in recognition of these important contributions, CSULB President Jane Close Conoley approved a comprehensive proposal from Professors Marsh, Professor Christopher Miles, and Professor Jay Kvapil, and officially authorized the establishment of the CSULB Center for Contemporary Ceramics, one of just twenty-seven Academic Centers and Institutes (ACI) at CSULB.

The origins of the CCC began with Professor Tony Marsh, who first began inviting guest artists and scholars to visit the CSULB ceramics area in 1985 when he was an adjunct instructor. Now an internationally celebrated artist, an expert teacher who has lectured and led classes and workshops across the country and abroad, a distinguished professor who served as head of the Ceramic Arts Program for most of the last three decades, and a highly respected professional in the field whose network of affiliations has helped bring some of the most interesting and influential artists and scholars working today to our campus, Professor Marsh, who was named a United States Artists Fellow in 2018, served as the inaugural CCC Director. The establishment of the CCC cements the enduring legacy of the long-existing culture of creative and scholarly activity fostered by Professor Marsh, who continues to work on behalf of the center while stepping out of the role of director to focus on his studio practice and exhibitions.

In August 2020, Professor Christopher Miles, co-founder of the CCC, was appointed by the Dean of the College of the Arts to serve as the center’s second director. A member of the School of Art faculty since 1998, Chris is a 2019 recipient of the CSULB President’s Award for Outstanding Faculty Achievement. Chris, served as the primary author of the CCC proposal and guided the proposal through the multiple levels of campus review culminating in the president’s approval. Chris has served in multiple administrative roles at CSULB. As Chair of the Art Department, he lead the effort to redesignate the department as the School of Art and served as the School’s first director. He created and staffed the School of Art Student Services Center and initiated the development of a new complex of MFA studios. As interim Dean of the College of the Arts, he oversaw planning, fundraising, and construction for the first University Art Museum expansion and the Museum Plaza, and he launched the first initiative to proactively incorporate diversity and inclusion experience and considerations directly into the faculty search process. An award-winning curator and critic, and an exhibiting artist, Chris returned to the classroom and studio in 2014 and has served as Program Head for Ceramic Arts since 2016.