Clay Club welcomes 3 UNL ceramics alumni as visiting artists

Left to right: Stuart Gair, Matthew Kelleher and Rhonda Willers.
Left to right: Stuart Gair, Matthew Kelleher and Rhonda Willers.

Clay Club welcomes 3 UNL ceramics alumni as visiting artists

calendar icon09 Feb 2023    

The UNL Clay Club is hosting three noted University of Nebraska–Lincoln ceramics alumni as visiting artists Feb. 13-14 for two days of demonstrations and lectures.

Matt Kelleher (MFA 1999), Rhonda Willers (MFA 2007) and Stuart Gair (MFA 2017) will be in residence in the School of Art, Art History & Design.

All three artists will be demonstrating during three sessions on Monday and Tuesday in the ceramics studios, Richards Hall Rm. 117 and 118. Each artist will also give a 30-minute artist talk on Monday evening in Richards Hall Rm. 15.

The full schedule:

Monday, Feb. 13:
8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Demonstrations (Richards Hall 117-118)
1:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Demonstrations (Richards Hall 117-118)
5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Public Artist Lectures (Richards Hall Rm. 15)

Tuesday, Feb. 14:
1:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Demonstrations (Richards Hall 117-118)

All of the listed events are free and open to the public. 

“Clay Club was excited about the prospect of choosing a theme for our visiting artists this semester, and having that theme be around alumni felt natural,” said Casey Beck, a graduate ceramics student in the School of Art, Art History & Design and the president of Clay Club. “The three alumni were chosen through a democratic voting system in which all members of Clay Club had equal say in who they were interested in inviting. The three artists that were chosen show a diverse range of making styles and eras of UNL graduate students.”

Clay Club’s visiting artist program is funded entirely by proceeds from their semester-end Clay Club Sales. 

“By welcoming in visiting artists, we’re able to allow access to a diverse range of artists, their making styles and thought processes for our students,” Beck said. “This acts as a teaching opportunity for both the ways in which our students work with clay and think about clay.”

Graduate and undergraduate students are also offered time to discuss their work with each artist.

“This also gives our students an opportunity to expand their social circles within the field and connect with more artists, forming lifelong connections that lead to friendships and opportunities in the field,” Beck said.

Gair received a history degree from Ohio University before completing his MFA from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He has spent time making work and teaching at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana; Harvard University, as well as Colorado Mountain College in Aspen. Currently, he lives and works as a full-time studio artist in Athens, Ohio, where he is exploring alternative ways of firing the soda kiln. The geometric forms he creates are driven by form, function, utility, subtlety and discovery. For more on Gair, visit

Kelleher is an assistant professor at Alfred University. He brought 10 years of experience as a studio potter to this position, including a three-year residency at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. He studied ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute before receiving his MFA from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He has also been an artist-in-residence at the Archie Bray Foundation, Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in Japan and Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in China. For more on Kelleher, visit

Willers is a visual artist, educator, writer, researcher, mother and author of the book “Terra Sigillata: Contemporary Techniques,” which was published by The American Ceramics Society in February 2019. Willers earned her BFA in ceramics and photography from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls before completing her MFA at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She also did post-baccalaureate studies at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. She also serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA). For more on Willers, visit