Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


I use nature as my escape from the daily grind. I seek out wilderness to recharge my creative batteries. Just as the forest has unseen and unappreciated levels of life, so does the entire planet. When I am trapped in the daily business of life and long for an escape to nature, I have found that I can locate that beauty almost anywhere. When evaluating the structure and design of an organism on a microscopic level, especially through electron microscopy, there exist amazing and untold levels of beauty that humanity takes for granted every day. All life forms provide some meaningful aspect or purpose for the planet. My forms do not represent any specific organism, but rather the creative design behind all organisms

I express myself primarily through clay and glaze. As a potter by trade, I am deeply rooted in all aspects of the ceramic process. Clay is malleable and of the earth. It is the perfect medium to express Earth’s treasures. Occasionally, when I am forming something that exceeds the limits of clay, I express myself with other mediums such as wood, paint, foam, and organic materials. I enjoy mixing materials and processes to make a stronger statement with a sculpture. Texture plays a pivotal role in my work. My surfaces are glazed with highly textured glazes. I often find a specific naturally occurring texture and then spend countless hours formulating and testing glazes to create specific effects. Employing glaze chemistry to create a lichen or coral texture is like mad science that allows me to blend work and play. Primarily, I use stoneware at mid-range to high fire temperatures to ensure the permanence of my creations. The finished result is reminiscent of a fossilized specimen to be studied in the round. My goal is to make every angle an interesting view.

I primarily seek out inspiration from nature and biology, often finding intriguing samples in the woods that I carry home with me when possible. After viewing them under a microscope, I sometimes create small samples of what inspired me and then view the sample under a microscope to expand the experience even further. I look at electron microscope images of fungi, viruses, bacteria, plants, insects, aquatic life, and geology as well. I am inspired by artists like Andy Goldsworthy, Sara Catapano, William Kidd, and Eva Zethraeus through their unique forming techniques, surface textures, and creative tension. To formulate ideas, I sketch and compile images that inspire me and flip through them for several minutes before starting a new sculpture. After flooding my imagination with images, I close the sketchbook and start preparing my clay. I do not look back to the images when forming so that I can allow for pure growth from memory and imagination.

As an artist, I continually strive to create dynamic work that draws in the viewer. My favorite question from the viewer is, “What am I looking at?” Spreading the beauty and fragility of nature through my creations brings me great satisfaction. Nature is an endless spring of inspiration that will never run dry. I will continue this body of work to bring about awareness of the microscopic beauty of the earth and within ourselves that we often take for granted.


Linda Ganstrom

Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type



© 2024 Mark Freeman


For questions contact

Included in

Ceramic Arts Commons