Former Students Honored as NCECA 2018 Emerging Artists

A College of Arts & Letters alumnus and a former student have been honored with 2018 Emerging Artists awards by the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), which recognizes exceptional early career artists.

Wade MacDonald, who received his MFA in Studio Art with a concentration in Ceramics from Michigan State University in 2014, and Adam Chau, who studied Ceramics at Michigan State University in 2011 as a post-baccalaureate student, are among the six artists selected by the NCECA as 2018 Emerging Artists.

headshot of a man in a black suit and white tie. He has orange hair and beard as well as black glasses
Wade MacDonald

“I feel honored and humbled to be a recipient of the 2018 NCECA Emerging Artist Award and owe this success, in part, to the faculty expertise at MSU’s Department of Art, Art History, and Design,” MacDonald said. “I feel privileged to share, with an international ceramics community, the high level of creative research and scholarship at MSU.”

The artists chosen for this year’s honor were identified through an open call for submissions, reviewed and selected by distinguished artists Ayumi Horie and Arthur Gonzalez, who worked in concert with Julia Galloway, NCECA Director at Large.

“This year’s group of Emerging Artists embody the rich multiplicity of work that is redefining who and what we are as a ceramics field,” Gonzalez and Howe wrote in their juror statement. “Collectively they are expansive in their thinking and brave in the narratives that they are bringing to light.”

I feel honored and humbled to be a recipient of the 2018 NCECA Emerging Artist Award and owe this success, in part, to the faculty expertise at MSU’s Department of Art, Art History, and Design.


As part of the Emerging Arts award, the artists and their work were exposed to an international audience at the NCECA Annual Conference, which took place in March at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During the conference, an Emerging Artist exhibition and lecture series was held.

Ash Neukamm, Art Books and Ceramic Arts Network Assistant Editor, wrote in the NCECA 2018 Pittsburgh Recap in the Ceramic Arts Network that MacDonald and Chau were among her three favorite 2018 Emerging Artists. 

“I was struck by Wade MacDonald’s use of mixed media and how it often highlighted the clay, rather than obscured it,” Neukamm wrote in the NCECA 2018 Pittsburgh Recap. “Influenced heavily by the Bauhaus movement and postmodern architectural structures, MacDonald uses abstract form to define personal social narratives. His use of color, material, and space invite, and almost challenge the viewer to find areas of contemplation.”

an art piece in a clear box, there is a blue lighting
This piece by Wade MacDonald, titled “Marked Invitation – Blue/Smurf,” appeared in the NCECA 2018 Emerging Artist exhibition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

MacDonald has exhibited nationally and currently teaches courses in Ceramics and Art Foundations at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. In August, he will be featured in American Craft Magazine.

MacDonald has completed artist residencies at Banff Centre and Anderson Ranch Art Center. Last year, he joined a group of renowned ceramic artists at Red Lodge Clay Center in Red Lodge, Montana, as part of the Artists Invite Artists Residency Program.

As a graduate student at MSU, MacDonald received the Stanley and Selma Hollander Graduate Fellowship in Studio Art, the Varg-Sullivan Award for Distinguished Research, and the John and Susan Berding Family Foundation Endowment Juried MFA Prize.

picture of a man sitting and wearing a pink and white button-up and black pants
Adam Chau

As for Chau, Neukamm wrote that he “explored the connections we make with our smart devices and how we choose to reveal personal and private parts of our lives in this digital age. He also discussed how he uses technology in his work to create unique drawings from the same digital tool path rendering. Chau questions the relationship between craft and technology, and design and artistry, and the resulting work is powerful and delicate.”

Chau is the Program Manager at Clay Art Center in Port Chester, New York. He received a BFA from Maine College of Art before coming to Michigan State University to study Ceramics as a post-baccalaureate. He also holds a Master of Design from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

a blue watercolor of a face on an ipad screen
This piece by Adam Chau (Computer Generated Selfie, Porcelain and CNC decorated cobalt, 2018) appeared in the NCECA 2018 Emerging Artist exhibition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
(Photo credit: Jorrit Taekema)

Chau produces ceramic objects that hybridize industrial design with studio pottery. His writing on ceramics technology has appeared in several publications, including Studio Potter, Ceramics Technical, and Ceramics Monthly.

The 2018 NCECA Emerging Artists and their work will be promoted throughout the year on the NCECA blog and there will be additional opportunities for increased exposure through exhibitions and special events.

NOTE: The College of Arts & Letters featured Wade MacDonald in an alumni story video soon after he received his MFA in 2014.