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Frances Senska

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She began teaching at Montana State University in Bozeman in 1946. The school's Department of Applied Art hired her to teach ceramics. But she did not, at that time, consider herself a ceramicist. "I started teaching ceramics with the merest little scrap of knowledge. I had had just two quarters of ceramics when I started teaching. I just learned it right along with the class," she later said. Senska decided to build a ceramics program from the ground up. Olga Ross Hannon, the department's head, gave her $300, and she and her first class of students took over a storeroom in the basement of Herrick Hall, purchased foot-driven potter's wheels, and built an electric kiln from scratch. Continuing to train in ceramics, Senska attended a workshop taught by noted French-American ceramic artist Marguerite Wildenhain at the Pond Farm artists' colony near Guerneville, California, in the summer of 1950. Senska later said that she learned her hand technique from Wildenhain. Her students included a number of influential ceramicists, including Rudy Autio and Peter Voulkos. While teaching at Montana State, Senska met fellow art professor Jessie Spaulding Wilber. The two women became lifelong friends and companions. Senska retired from teaching in 1973.

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