Val Cushing
Oral History Interview with Val Cushing
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Short Bio*

Val Cushing was born in Rochester, New York on January 28th, 1931. He received his BFA in 1952 from the School of Art & Design in the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. After serving two years in the Army, during the Korean War, he returned to Alfred and received his MFA in 1956. His full-time teaching career began that year at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. The following year, 1957, he returned to Alfred where he taught pottery and technical courses concerning clays, glazes and related subjects. He retired from Alfred in 1997, after forty-one years of teaching and was designated “Professor Emeritus”.   

He found his profession to be challenging, always stimulating, and one filled with memories of friendships and wonderful students. At various times, he has taught in England, Norway and Spain. He has taught summer programs at Alfred, Penland, Anderson Ranch, Peters Valley, Haystack and on the island of Maui where he taught for six weeks as the first artist-in-residence at the Hui Noeau.  He has given over 250 lectures, workshops and demonstrations that have taken him all over the United States, to Canada, Ireland, England and Japan. His pottery has received many awards and honors, has been seen in well over 200 exhibitions, and in numerous one-person shows.  He is represented in the collections of many public and private museums and galleries in the USA - including the Smithsonian, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Cooper-Hewitt, and the Everson.  He is also represented in Canada, England, Taiwan, Japan and Hawaii.  

He has received honors from Alfred University, from New York State and from NCECA for his role as a teacher.  He is a Fellow of the American Craft Council and of NCECA (The National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts) where he was a founding member and a past president. He has received an artist's grant from the National Endowment of the Arts; a Fulbright grant for teaching and research in Manchester, England, an artist-in-residence grant at the Archie Bray Foundation and at the University of Wolverhampton, England.  

He now works full-time in his studio in Alfred and continues to exhibit his work and to do occasional lectures and workshops. He considers himself very fortunate to have in his life such a loving and always supportive wife, four creative children and seven grandchildren.  Because he is able to constantly pursue his passion for ceramics by making, teaching and writing, he can fulfill his own deeply felt creative needs, as well as experience the pleasure and satisfaction of helping others.  He shares these feelings with the American painter, Arthur Dove who said, “I should like to enjoy life by choosing all its highest instances to give back in my means of expression all that it gives to me.”

*Short Bio courtesy of

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