Staff & Instructors

Brian Kluge is the current owner and operator of Midwest Clay Project. He received a BS in Art Education (2002) from UW – Madison and an MFA (2011) from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.  In addition to an active studio practice, Brian brings a wealth of teaching experiences with students of all abilities and ages from public art teaching to University ceramics classes with community studios mixed in. In addition to handling the day-to-day operations of MCP, Brian also currently teaches ceramics at Madison College and UW-Madison. Brian exhibits ceramics nationally and has completed artist residencies at the LUX Center for the Arts and at the Roswell Artist-in-Residence program. He purchased the studio from Jennifer Lapham in the summer of 2017.(

Nicky Ross, an instructor at MCP, has over ten years of ceramic experience and wears many hats.  Starting her ceramic career fresh out of college in NH, she worked as a poor contract piece-rate potter.  Yearning for change and nice folks she packed up her tiny car and moved to Madison.  She worked at Lakeside Pottery while it was still in business, first as a teacher, then studio manager.  She now fills many of her days working as an independent studio designer and maker in her business nstar studio, which offers hand-crafted ceramics and textiles with a touch of color and whimsy.  She runs this studio with wit and sass, and of course, lifts countless ware boards with skill and caution.  Sometimes she takes off all her hats and sleeps.  (

Shandra Bjyrd, an instructor and volunteer studio assistant at MCP, is currently honing her skills as an independent potter. A Madison native, she studied ceramics at Madison College before moving her studio practice to MCP. Since that time Shandra has amassed a wealth of ceramics teaching experiences leading both private lessons and community classes. She also does some production work for some of MCP clients. We are very fortunate to have access to this emerging talent in our studio!

Rachelle Miller recently joined the ranks of instructors at MCP, but has been actively involved with clay for many years. She cut her pottery teeth working as a production potter at Rowe Pottery in Cambridge, but has extensive knowledge of clay and handbuilding techniques through her independent studio practice at Winnebago Studios (next door to MCP). Check out her independent studio at the next Gallery Night or see her work at Artisan Gallery in Paoli. (Artisan Gallery spotlight)

Founder Jennifer Lapham brought her 20+ years of experience as an artist and educator to Midwest Clay Project.  Lapham decided to pursue her interest in ceramics shortly after receiving a BA (1988) in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, Annapolis, MD, completing two years of post-baccalaureate studies (1993) at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in Alfred, NY.  Immediately following, she lived, worked and traveled in Japan for a summer where she had opportunities to learn about the tradition of Japanese ceramics. Lapham received her MFA (1996) in ceramics from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and began an eleven year stretch teaching in academia, including positions as Visiting Faculty in Art at Allegheny College, Meadville, PA, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  In 2000, she began serving as Gallery Director and Adjunct Faculty in Art at Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL.  She held this position until 2007 when she and her family moved to Madison.  In addition to her work as an educator, Lapham exhibited her artwork nationally from 1996-2007, which included collaborative projects with her partner Paul Sacaridiz.

Paul Sacaridiz received an MFA (1998) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BFA from Alfred University (1993).  Since 1997 he has been active in solo exhibitions, collaborative projects and group shows at a diverse number of venues including: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Icheon World Ceramic Center, Icheon, Korea, The Dubuque Museum of Art (IA), The Alfedena Gallery, Chicago, The Northern Illinois University Art Museum and the Ceramic Research Center at Arizona State University. His work has been the subject of reviews and articles in Ceramics: Art and Perception, The New Art Examiner and Art Papers among others.  Sacaridiz has been the recipient of residencies at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, The Ragdale Foundation, The Vermont Studio Center and the Art/Industry Program at Kohler Company.  After a stint as Associate Professor in the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Department Chair, Paul recently took on a directorial role at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. He also serves as an advisor to Midwest Clay Project. (

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