Ceramics Student Wins $15K Windgate Fellowship

John Souter ’12 (Crafts) will travel and study in France this summer


April 2, 2012

The soaring gothic cathedral in Chartres, France, inspired John Souter's senior ceramic work, but he did not imagine he'd be seeing the real thing so soon. In March, Souter learned that he was one of 10 students nationwide selected for a 2012 Windgate Fellowship, one of the largest gifts to Crafts majors in the country. The $15,000 grant will allow Souter to travel and study in France this summer as well as support his post-graduation work.

Funded by the Windgate Charitable Trust, the award recognizes graduating seniors who have excelled in the world of craft through their work in ceramics, book arts, fiber, glass, metals, mixed media, sculpture, textiles or wood. This year – one of the most competitive in the award's history – 114 applicants competed for the 10 awards.

An international jury selected by the University of North Carolina's Center for Craft, Creativity and Design chooses the grant winners each year. According to the center, students are selected on the basis of artistic merit and their potential to make a significant contribution to the advancement of their field.


Working with Ceramics Coordinator Jim Makins and Crafts professors Judith Schaechter, Liz Stewart and Alexander Rosenberg – who served as project advisors – Souter assembled a body of work to submit for the prize.

"I took a class that was just on the Chartres cathedral," said Souter. "I became most interested in the objects within the building and about how the necessity of function drives form. It made me think about the building as objects – components to make a whole, and how it related to the vessel. You always start with the vessel in ceramics, but then you take it to the next level of 'what does that mean to me?' "

"John is just incredibly hardworking and dedicated," said Schaechter. "His intuitive approach has allowed him access to some areas of creativity that have resulted in a truly personal voice that is understandable and universal – with the results being something that is both familiar yet completely unique. He approaches his work with a complete open mind and has no foregone conclusions when he begins a piece. As a result, he has developed a body of work that is gutsy, aesthetically unique, and invites both functional use and contemplation."


Souter will spend a month in France, visiting the cathedral and traveling and exploring the French ceramics industry and tradition. "I plan to do a lot of drawing," he said.

When he returns, he plans to continue working and making art in Philadelphia, and is pursuing opportunities to work at Philadelphia's Clay Studio as part of UArts' work exchange. "I won't actually be making ceramics while I am in France," he said, "so by the time I get home, I will be itching to get back in the studio to make things."

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