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Ceramicist Mike Stumbras will present his work at Northwest during the month of February. (submitted photos)

Ceramicist Mike Stumbras will present his work at Northwest during the month of February. (submitted photos)

Jan. 22, 2021

Visiting artist bringing mix of contemporary, historical art to Northwest

By Sidney Lowry, communication assistant

Northwest Missouri State University’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts will feature the work of ceramics artist Mike Stumbras though an exhibition, lecture and process demonstration next month.

A display of Stumbras’ contemporary works inspired by historical production opens in the Olive DeLuce Gallery at the Olive DeLuce Fine Arts Building Monday, Feb. 1, and continues through Tuesday, Feb. 26. Stumbras will give a lecture at 7 p.m. Feb. 1 via Zoom. The Northwest community may view Stumbras’ lecture live on Facebook at  

Stumbras also will lead a process demonstration for interested students on Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 in Room 118 of the Fine Arts Building, where he will discuss his personal method and framework for creating his pieces. The demonstration is open to all Northwest students, but limited to 15 people.

“His work is a curious mix of the historical and contemporary,” Watkins said. “He references the beautiful and grotesque. Often as artists, we consider and speak about opposing forces or ideas. He is also a master with a unique set of processes that I am excited for our students to get to see. Our students are idea- and process-driven, so there will be something for all of them to connect with even if they don’t work in the medium of ceramics.”

Born in Chicago, Stumbras started at St. Olaf College where he obtained bachelor’s degrees in studio art and in biology in 2007. He then went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics from Louisiana State University in 2017 and now lives and works in Kansas City, Missouri.

Before working in Kansas City, he was a visiting assistant professor at the College of William and Mary and a lecturer at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He has displayed his work throughout the country and internationally.

“It is the strong connection I feel to the chaotic and imperfect nature handcraft that, to me, highlights the victories and tribulations in the labors of the handmade,” Stumbras wrote in his artist statement. “I embrace the errors of the hand and artifacts of the heat from firing because, although pots themselves may be inanimate know-nothings, they still have something to teach us about the natural and the arcane.”

Stumbras’ visit to Northwest is a part of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts’ Master’s Series. Funding for the series is provided through a grant awarded by the Missouri Arts Council and the University.

“Artists can answer questions and are accessible to the students in a way that is unique,” Watkins said. “The exhibit itself brings the work into view, but we also value the accompanying artist lectures because our students get to hear about the real ins-and-outs of art making outside of academia. We learn about the progression of ideas, inspiration and the journey an artist has taken. In the case of Mike Stumbras, we are even more fortunate that he will be sharing his processes through studio demonstrations as well.”

For more information about Mike Stumbras, visit


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215