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School of Art Regents' Professor named one of 50 USA Fellows

December 12, 2012

Kurt Weiser, Regents' Professor of Ceramics in the ASU School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, was named a 2012 United States Artists Fellow. Fifty fellowships are awarded to the nation’s finest artists in areas from crafts and traditional arts to theatre arts, dance, music, architecture and design, visual arts, literature and media. Weiser was the only Arizona artist chosen among 438 artists nominated for this prestigious fellowship which includes an unrestricted $50,000 grant.

“Students and fellow faculty know well the talent and dedication of Professor Kurt Weiser as an artist and teacher,’’ said Adriene Jenik, director of the ASU School of Art. “To have him acknowledged as one of the finest artists in the country, alongside other luminaries in a spectrum of creative practices, reminds us of the honor we have to be working alongside and learning from him.”

Although Weiser hasn’t decided exactly how he will spend the fellowship, he expects to use the money toward his art. “It’s an odd sort of mix of freedom and security to be able to do what I’ve thought about doing and haven’t had the nerve,” Weiser said about receiving the grant. “I feel so very fortunate.’’

First, he plans to complete a project for an exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. After that he said for the first time he could consider hiring people to help him with his latest artistic endeavor: making ceramic globes of the world mounted on elegant custom bronze stands. He also intends to use part of the money to expand his studio in Montana where he spends his summers.

A member of the ASU School of Art faculty since 1988, Weiser is one of three award-winning faculty members in the school’s ceramics program, which is ranked seventh in the nation by U. S. News & World Report. “Whether making functional pottery reminiscent of Sun Dynasty ware or his skill as a Postmodern china painter on porcelain, Kurt has been extremely successful with the many shifts and developments his art has taken him in an illustrious career spanning four decades,” said Peter Held, curator of the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center. He credits Weiser’s time as director of the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts with allowing him “to experiment with a wide range of firing techniques and forming processes, always amazing those around him with his technical knowledge and adept handling of clay.”

United States Artists was created with $22 million in seed money from such prominent foundations as Ford, Rockefeller, Prudential and Rasmuson to elevate the status of artists with sizeable, unrestricted grants. Since the first fellowships were given seven years ago, United States Artists have awarded $17.5 million in grants to 365 of the nation’s top artists, according to Debra Dysart, director of development operations. Other donors, including the Windgate Charitable Foundation that funded Weiser’s fellowship, also have stepped up to support the program.

This year’s fellows include emerging, mid-career and established artists from 19 states who were chosen based on their expertise in the art form they practice and the impact they could have in their field, explained Dysart. The rigorous selection process begins with artists and experts chosen as nominators by the organization in each of the eight arts categories. The nominators recommend artists who are in turn asked to complete applications. Panels of artists and experts then review those applications and award the fellowships.

Weiser is one of six honored in the crafts and traditional arts category. The group also includes Nicholas Galanin, an internationally recognized Tlingit/Aleut multimedia artist who is among five Native American artists participating in the School of Art’s 2013 biennial Map(ing) Project from Jan. 3-10, 2013.

For more on Kurt Weiser and the ASU School of Art Ceramics program, visit:

For more on United States Artists and the 2012 Fellowships, visit: USA Fellows.