SoVA team receives grant to facilitate remote teaching of ceramics

Kris Grey, visiting artist and assistant teaching professor in ceramics, is the leader of a team of Penn State School of Visual Arts faculty and students who received a Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence “Garden Project” grant for the development of ART 080, Intro to Ceramics, into a completely remote course.

“The Garden Project: Cultivating Communities of Practice Across Penn State” gives faculty and staff the ‘seed’ money to start or continue communities of practice where they can find support and opportunities to discuss challenges related to teaching.

“In the ceramics area, we have been meeting as a group to address the challenges and emotional ramifications of the global pandemic since early March,” said Grey. “When I saw the call from the Schreyer Institute, I realized our area had already formed a ‘community of practice’ in response to COVID-19 and the remote teaching shift. I felt we were an excellent fit!”

Grey’s team is using the grant funds to create video content about ceramic-specific processes like wheel-throwing, kiln-firing and glaze application in order to better instruct remote students. The intent is for the videos to remain available for all Penn State faculty delivering remote ceramic instruction now and in the future.

They plan to create an initial set of videos and then expand the project over time, including building a broadcast facility specifically for ceramic instruction.

Grey noted there are unique considerations when moving materials studies into the digital realm.

“We have shifted to teaching new lesson plans that highlight the intersection of ceramics and digital culture. For instance, we piloted a new claymation module over the summer in my Introduction to Ceramics course,” explained Grey. “The results were wildly successful and helped us identify new possibilities for advancing and expanding both our teaching and our field.”

Since there are lots of new modules to teach, we will be using the seed money from this grant to offset the production of new video instructional content in order to better serve our students.”
-Kris Grey

Other members of the project team include associate professors Shannon Goff and Tom Lauerman, instructor and program alumnus Andrew Casteñeda and graduate students Austin Bradshaw, Audrey An and Harrison Boden.

Grey’s project was one of 19 to receive grant funds, which can be used for anything from materials and food to speakers and other activities to support strengthening instructors’ connection and teaching practice.

For more information on The Garden Project, visit For more of Grey’s reflections on shifting to remote teaching of ceramics, see his blog post on the Arts & Design Research Incubator website.