Ezra Shales

Title: Professor

Degrees: BA Wesleyan University; MFA Hunter College; PhD Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture


Made in Newark: Cultivating Industrial Arts and Civic Identity in the Progressive Era (Rutgers University Press, 2010).

Reviews of Made in Newark in The Journal of Design History by Sarah Scaturro (PDF); The Journal of Modern Craft by Ellen Denker (PDF); American Craft by Caroline Hannah (PDF); Winterthur Portfolio by Rosemary Krill (PDF)


"A 'Little Journey' to Empathize with (and Complicate) the Factory," Design & Culture vol. 4, no. 2 (Summer 2012): 215-220 (PDF)

"Corporate Craft: Constructing the Empire State Building," Journal of Modern Craft vol. 4, issue 2 (July 2011): 151-178 (PDF)

"Toying with Design Reform: Henry Cole and Instructive Play for Children," Journal of Design History vol. 22, no. 1 (Spring 2009): 3-27 (PDF)

"Decorative Arts" in The Material Culture of American Life: An Encyclopedia, 143-145, Helen Sheumaker and Shirley Wajda, editors, ABC-Clio Press, 2007 (PDF)


"Objective Foucs: The Bowl," Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland

"The Tool at Hand," Milwaukee Art Museum/Chipstone Foundation
"Ceramics as Ethos or Discourse? Wayne Higby's Contributions to Scholarship in American Ceramic Art," in Infinite Place: The Ceramic Art of Wayne Higby, Arnoldsche, 2013

Book review, Walter Crane by Morna O'Neill and Novel Craft by Talia Schaffer, West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture vol. 19, no. 2 (Fall Winter 2012): 325-328

Book review, The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman: Grayson Perry at the British Museum in Journal of Modern Craft vol. 5, issue 2 (July 2012): 231-236 (PDF)

"Intervals on the Table," TableSpace, Fosdick-Nelson Gallery, 2012

"A Functioning Vessel: Sounds of Laughter, Shades of Earth" in Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics: The Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection, Museum of Fine Art, Houston and Yale University Press, 2012

"Teaching Ceramic Citizenship," Out of Clay: The Krevolin Collection of Pre-Contact Pottery, (Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art, 2012) (PDF)

"The Paradoxes of the Everson's Ceramic Nationals," catalog essay for the Museum of Contemporary Craft's exhibition Northwest Modern, August 2011-February 2012

"Metabolic Décor," Echo Chamber: Anders Ruhwald and Marie Torbensdatter Hermann, Schein-Joseph Museum of Ceramic Art, 2011

"'Decadent Plumbers' Porcelain': Craft and Modernity in Ceramic Sanitary Ware," Kunst Og Kultur (Norwegian Journal of Art and Culture) vol. 94, no. 3 (Fall 2011)

"The Artistic Librarian," Fine Art Connoisseur vol. 6, no. 4 (2009): 57-60

"Tools Are Like Songs," Studio Potter vol. 36, no. 2 (Summer 2008): 23-6

"Technophilic Craft," American Craft vol. 68, no. 2 (April/May 2008): 78-80

"Celadon Refraction," in EarthCloud/Wayne Higby, with authors Helen Williams Drutt, Mary Drach McInnes, Lee Somers, Arnoldsche, 2008

"Matter Out of Place: Notes on Experiential Learning in a Studio Foundation Program," in John Wood: On the Edge of Clear Meaning, ed. Nathan Lyons, with authors David Levi Strauss and William Johnson, Steidl, 2008 (PDF)

Exhibition review, Design Issues vol. 22, no. 3 (Summer 2006): 66-69 of SAFE: Design Takes on Risk at the Museum of Modern Art

Book review, The Great Exhibitor: The Life and Work of Henry Cole (2003) by Elizabeth Bonython and Anthony Burton, Studies in the Decorative Arts vol. 12, no. 1 (Fall 2004): 142-144

O Pioneers! Women Ceramic Artists, 1925-1960, editor, organizer, and essayist
(Alfred University, 2015)

"Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture...then and now," browngrotta arts (2015)

"Good from Hand," in Val Cushing (Alfred University, 2015)

"Appreciating the Hands that Manufacture: Factory Craftsmanship at Kohler Co.,"

Arts/Industry: Collaboration and Revelation (Marquand Books and John Michael   Kohler Art Center, 2014)

"Adrian Saxe: A Working Class Pot is Something to Be," Thirty Objects, Thirty Insights  (Black Dog Books and Gardiner Museum, 2014)

"Where What's Done Comes Undone (Is a Museum)," online series, Ceramics in the Expanded Field (June 2013) Republished in Studio Potter, vol. 42, no. 2 (Summer-Fall 2014): 72-76


"The Politics of 'Ordinary Manufacture' in the Post-Industrial StateNation Building: Craft and Contemporary American Culture, Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery, November 2012

"Materiality Meets Liquidity in the Museum," Geschichte und Zukunft der Kunst- Und Designmuseen (History and Future of Art and Design Museums), Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn, January 2012

"The Porcelain Cup, Conscripted and Discharged," Society for the History of Technology 2011 Annual Meeting, Cleveland, November 2011

"Making or Unmaking? The Contexts of Contemporary Ceramics," Bergen National Academy of the Arts and Permanenten West Norway Museum of Decorative Art, October 2011

"Overthrown: Contemporary Ceramics," Denver Art Museum, September 2011

"Modern Craftsmanship in the Empire State Building and Lewis Hine's Photographs," College Art Association annual conference, New York City, February 2011

"Anonymous Craftsmen in the Empire State," California College of the Arts, October 2010

"The Historiographic Understanding of Craft and Design," Design and Craft: A History of Convergences and Divergences, 7th Conference of the International Committee of Design History and Design Studies, Brussels, Belgium, September 2010

"Craft's Social Life," Norwegian Research Council Project, Assigning Cultural Value, Bergen National Academy of the Arts (Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen), June 2010

"Key Texts in Twentieth-Century Ceramics Criticism," session chair and presenter, National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts annual conference, Philadelphia, April 2010

"Design and the Rhetoric of Democratization," session chair, College Art Association annual conference, Chicago, February 2010

"Craft's Social Life," Cranbrook Academy of Art, February 2010

"reMaking and reThinking Practices: Disciplinary Research in a Polymorphous World," Rhode Island School of Design, November 2009

"The Social Life of Craft," University of Wisconsin-Madison, September 2009

"Ceramic Readymades Before and Beyond Duchamp," Röhsska Museum of Decorative Arts, Göteborg, Sweden, March 2009

"Contemporary Discourses in Ceramics," Göteborg School of Art and Handicraft, Sweden, March 2009

"Contemporary Discourses in Ceramics," Kunsthøgskoleni Bergen, Norway, March 2009

"Toying with Design Reform," North American Victorian Studies Association annual conference, Yale University, November 2008

"John Wood Symposium: On the Edge of Clear Meaning," Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, October 2008

"Framing the Fireplace," Mid-Atlantic Popular American Culture Association annual conference, Niagara Falls, October 2008

"Contemporary Discourses in Ceramics," School of Design, Taideteollinen Korkeakoulu, University of Helsinki, September 2008

"Craft-Based Design or Design-Based Craft?" University of Helsinki "Crafticulation" conference, September 2008

"Crafting a Civic Utopia in Newark, New Jersey," College Art Association annual conference, Dallas, February 2008

"Towards a Class-Conscious Theory of Craft," Nova Scotia College of Art and Design's "NeoCraft" conference, Halifax, Canada, November 2007

"The Practical Value of Pluralist Ceramic History," International Society for Ceramics Art Education Exchange conference, University College for the Creative Arts at Farnham, Surrey, September 2007

"Teaching Prototypes and Pluralist Processes," panel chair and presenter, National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts annual conference, Louisville, Kentucky, March 2007

"Sanitary Ware and Modernity," Copenhagen Kunstindustrimuseet, and Guldagergaard, International Ceramic Research Center, Skaelskør, Denmark, August 2006

"Ceramic Art and Technology circa 1915: Charles Fergus Binnsand the Alfred Experiment in Context," American Art Pottery Association Conference, April 2006

"John Cotton Dana's Advertisements for a Modern Museum," Newark Museum, February 2006

"The 1909 Hudson-Fulton Catalogues: Codifying Americana in Typography," College Art Association annual conference,Atlanta, February 2005

"Arts and Crafts Influences and Progressive Politics at the Newark Museum and Newark Library, Circa 1900-1920," Winterthur Museum symposium, Delaware, October 2004 

"Branding the American Museum circa 1900-1920: Fashioning a Graphic Identity for the Metropolitan Museum of Art," 13th Annual Symposium on the Decorative Arts sponsored by the Masters Program in the History of Decorative Art, Cooper-Hewitt and Parsons, April 2004

"Eva Zeisel Recontextualized, Again: Savoring Sentimental Historicism in Tomorrow's  Classic TodayJournal of Modern Craft vol. 8, no. 2 (November 2015): 155-166

"The Politics of 'Ordinary Manufacture' and the Perils of Self-Serve Craft," Nation Building: Craft and Contemporary American Culture (Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2015) (at press)

"Mass Production as an Academic Imaginary,"  Journal of Modern Craft vol. 6, no. 3
(November 2013): 267-274

"Colonizing (After Black Mountain)," at "After Black Mountain College" symposium co-sponsored by Northeastern University and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, in connection with the ICA's exhibition "Leap Before You Look," October 2015

"Molding History," gallery lecture and tour of Arlene Shechet: All at Once, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, July 2015

"Reinvention and Manual Transmission: Reflections on Craft History from a Curator's and Critic's Perspective," Haystack 2015 Summer Conference, July 2015

"The Ghost Potter: Tracing the Paradoxical Roles of the Hand and Labor in the Production of Contemporary Tableware" in panel "Rethinking Labor," College Art Association annual conference, New York City, February 2015

Symposium participant, Making Ceramic Art: Objects and Meanings in Twentieth Century Ceramics, Yale University Art Gallery, October 2014

"Digitizing Contemporary Ceramics," Gardiner Museum, Toronto, April 2014

"A Celebration of William Daley," Philadelphia Museum of Art, April 2014

"Other Types of Workmanship," for conference "The Deskilling and Reskilling of Artistic Production," Concordia University, Montreal, November 2013

"The Fountain of Youth and Modern Craftsmanship," for conference "Mapping Contemporary Craft Theories," University of Göteborg, School of Art and Handicraft, and Röhsska Museum of Decorative Arts, November 2013

"Lathe Logic," Yale University Art Gallery, July 2013


"Echo Chamber: Anders Ruhwald and Marie Torbensdatter Hermann," Schein-Joseph Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred University, October-December 2011

Co-curator of the exhibition, "Raw Goods," Fosdick-Nelson Gallery, Alfred University, January-February (ebook) Exhibition review of "Raw Goods" in the Journal of Modern Craft (November 2011) (PDF)

Co-curator with Susan Edwards of the exhibition, "Horse Tales: American Images and Icons, 1800-2000," Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY, October-December 2001

"O Pioneers! Women Ceramic Artists, 1925-1960," editor, organizer, and essayist, Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, Alfred University, September-November 2015

"Pathmakers: Women in Modern Craft, Mid-Century and Today," Museum of Arts and
Design, New York City, April-October, 2015; National Museum of Women in the Arts, October, 2015-March, 2016

"William Daley: Studio Components," in collaboration with the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts exhibition "14 for 7," Massachusetts College of Art and Design's President's Gallery, August 2-October 25, 2014


"Cliff B. King" in "Open House: Working in Brooklyn," The Brooklyn Museum, 2004 (PDF)

"Cosmic Views of Queens, An Arcade Project," Queens Museum of Art Satellite Gallery at the Bulova Center, 2002

"Measure To Scale," installation on 92 Allen Street façade, NY, NY, 2002

"Looking for Mr. Fluxus," Art in General, NY, NY, 2001

"Reflections on Space: Alejandra Munizaga, Ben Pranger and Ezra Shales," Amelie A. Wallace Gallery, SUNY Old Westbury, NY, 2001

"Our Perceptions/Urban Reality," Artists Space, NY, NY, 2001

"A Common Denominator," Eldridge Street Project, NY, NY, 1999

"The Nominal Home," Beach 43rd Street, The Far Rockaways, NY, 1998 (PDF)


  • Massachusetts College of Art and Design Foundation Faculty Fellowship, Spring 2013
  • Exhibition Research Grant, Craft Research Fund, Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design, 2012
  • New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance Authors Award for Made in Newark:Cultivating Industrial Arts and Civic Identity in the Progressive Era, October 2011
  • Joseph Kruson Award for Excellence in Teaching, Alfred University, April 2010
  • Alfred University Service Learning Grant, April 2010
  • Emerging Scholars Award, Nineteenth-Century Studies Association, March 2010
  • Professional Development Grant, Alfred University, May 2009
  • Society for the Preservation of American Modernists, 2009
  • Windgate Foundation Publication Grant, 2009
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Alfred University, 2008
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Alfred University, 2007
  • Craft Research Fund, Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design, 2007
  • Fellowship for International Faculty Development, Alfred University, 2007
  • Ph.D. Research and Travel Grant, Bard Graduate Center, 2004
  • Fellowship, Victorian Summer School, London, UK, 2004
  • Fellowship, Victorian Summer School, Newport, RI, 2003
  • Connecticut Ceramic Circle Award, 2003


  • External examiner for Glass and Ceramics Division, Royal College of Art, 2012-2015
  • External examiner of Ph.D. candidate in design history, Royal College of Art, 2012
  • Vice-President of Design Studies Forum (CAA affiliate), 2010-2013 (3 year term)
  • Juror for the Pew Charitable Trust Foundation
  • Nominator for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards
  • Juror for the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design Grants
  • External evaluator of Ph.D. candidate, Kunsthøgskolen i Bergen, 2009-11
  • External evaluator for tenure review, Parsons The New School for Design, Göteborgs Universitet


  • College Art Association
  • Design Studies Forum (CAA affiliate)
  • Society for the History of Technology
  • American Alliance of Museums
  • Design History Society
  • Victorian Society of America
  • Victorian Studies Association
  • Mid-Atlantic Popular Culture Association
  • American Studies Association
  • Organization of American Historians