Meet the Chair

Meet Nathan Lynch

Studio Practice

As a student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, I was introduced to ceramics by Ken Price, a highly influential sculptor and one of the most important artists to ever use clay.

Later, I was extremely fortunate to work with Ron Nagle, another legendary sculptor and a master of color and form , while completing my MFA at Mills College. Under the influence and guidance of these two great artists, I developed an appreciation for well-crafted objects and a respect for an intuitive working process.

My work operates at the intersection of several disciplines: ceramics, sculpture, and performance art. For the last 15 years I have used clay as the central material for working through my ideas and fabricating sculpture and I fundamentally believe in its potential for working in concert with other materials and histories.

I encourage my students to immerse themselves in research, experiment with abandon, and be nimble whenever possible. I emphasize craft and technique as a way to understand the full range of material possibilities.

My ultimate goal is to enable students to achieve their full potential through a combination of teaching fundamental skills, fostering critical discourse, and encouraging intensive studio practice.

History of Innovation

For the last century Northern California has been the center of revolutionary ceramics. In the mid-1950s, notable alumni Peter Voulkos, Viola Frey, and Robert Arneson helped establish the college as the center of ceramic art on the West Coast.

Today the Bay Area continues to be home to some of the greatest innovative ceramic sculptors, and CCA's Ceramics Program is uniquely situated to draw on this history and to lead the next generation of innovative ceramic artists.


We encourage our students to approach ceramics with a strong foundation in ceramic history, paired with an understanding of other creative practices. Students should also be able to situate their work on a continuum of visual production.

Our curriculum includes a high number of electives, giving ceramic students a unique advantage: the opportunity to develop a critical voice and attain interdisciplinary technical abilities in addition to their skills in ceramics.

We strive to make our program an open-source model for education by sharing our knowledge, faculty, students, and facilities with the entire college. We run several workshops every year in collaboration with other programs at CCA such as Interior Design, Textiles, Architecture, Printmaking, and Sculpture.

Interdisciplinary studio work allows students and faculty to bring fresh eyes and exciting ideas to working with a material with which they are otherwise unfamiliar. In doing so, they challenge the way we think about and build with clay.

Ceramics as a Social and Communal Practice

Our program attracts students who view ceramics as a communal practice and a functional material -- one that serves food and brings people together throughout the world -- yet we also draw students who seek to engage in social projects.

The Ceramics curriculum offers several project-based courses that focus on the unique social history of ceramic traditions.

We firmly support our students as they develop their unique focus within the wide field of ceramics -- from pottery production to public art and from ceramic sculpture to social practice.

ENGAGE at CCA: Project-Based Learning

I am particularly excited about our project-based, off-campus learning opportunities that provide students with opportunities to explore possibilities for ceramic materials in the wider world of art and design.

In the last three years I have worked with students to develop projects in collaboration with the FOR-SITE Foundation, Pie Ranch, and Año Nuevo Island (with REBAR art & design studio).

Watch a video of Nathan Lynch discussing a FOR-SITE project »

In these special studio courses our students benefit from the rich experience of working directly with professionals in the field, creating solutions for specific real-world problems:

FOR-SITE Foundation, an organization focused on art about place: Students developed individual projects in response to specific conditions on the site in Nevada City.

Pie Ranch: Students worked to design and build an outdoor brick oven, giving the nonprofit educational farm a place to bake their trademark pies -- including a view of the Pacific Ocean!

Designing Ecology was our first ENGAGE at CCA course: Taught in collaboration with REBAR art & design studio artists and the biologists of Oikonos Ecosystem Knowledge, our students designed and built nesting modules for the Rhinoceros Auklet, an endangered seabird.

Visit Nathan Lynch's faculty bio.

Read more about Ceramics project-based courses.