Visiting CLAS assistant professor named 2023 NCECA Emerging Artist

School of Art and Art History faculty member Heidi McKay Casto has been selected as a National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts Emerging Artist for 2023.
Monday, June 12, 2023

By Charlotte Brookins 

The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) named visiting UI School of Art and Art History assistant professor Heidi McKay Casto one of this year’s Emerging Artists. The annual award features six different artists selected from a pool of applicants whose art, statements, and supporting documents are reviewed by the NCECA. The winners each receive a fellowship of $3,300 and are prominently featured on the NCECA website, social media, and publications.  

Heidi McKay Casto
Heidi Mckay Casto

“This is an award that every ceramicist knows,” says Casto on her reaction to receiving the award. “The one we watch our mentors receive when we are students, and that we all secretly hope that someday, somehow, we will receive, but also, that seems so unlikely and so impossible. And yet, here I was.” 

In addition to the funding and being featured by the NCECA, Casto also spoke at the NCECA’s 57th Annual Concert in Cincinnati, Ohio in March 2023. Casto presented a keynote-level lecture and presentation to the attendees of the conference, which included more than 6,000 art and art history professionals. She was also featured in the conference journal publication and received her own solo exhibition as part of the award, giving her national recognition as an artist. 

“Being selected as an NCECA Emerging Artist is the top honor in the field of academic ceramics,” Casto says. “This award has broadened the scope of my connections, has strengthened my voice as an artist and educator, and has expanded my opportunities with galleries, residencies and workshops, as well as highlighted the UI School of Art and Art History as a premier venue and institution specializing in the exploration of contemporary discourse in the ceramic arts.” 

During this past year in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Casto has served as an assistant professor in the foundations area of the School of Art and Art History, where she works as a mentor to graduate students, a teacher of drawing courses, and a designer of curricula. She says she is grateful for the opportunities the UI provides her.  

“The facilities we have support any wild idea I want to pursue with my work, and the other faculty and students bring an energy into the space that feels collaborative even when we are all working individually,” she adds. “It is inspiring and a privilege to work here at the University of Iowa.” 

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.