University Relations and Communications

MSU Billings ceramics professor wins state arts award

August 24, 2009



Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269
Montana Arts Council


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — A Montana State University Billings ceramics professor was one of six artists to receive a $3,000 Montana Arts Council Artist’s Innovation Award for 2009.


Lea ZoltowskiLea Zoltowski, a clay artist and assistant professor of ceramics at MSU Billings, was awarded the Jessie Wilber and Frances Senska Individual Artist Award in Ceramics, established by a private gift to the arts council from Stacy Hamm of Washington and Sage Walden of Oregon. Zoltowski is the first recipient of this honor.


Zoltowski graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from New York State College of Ceramics in 2001. She has a deep love of teaching, which she does locally and nationally. In 2008, she created as a free educational resource for artists and educators everywhere that currently offers more than 15 ceramics demonstration videos.


Nut StandIn her words, Zoltowski said she wants to “challenge the passive spectatorship of art.” Her clay sculptures are touchable, fantastical and encourage a great deal of interaction and reaction on the part of the viewer. Her work has been widely exhibited nationally and internationally, and is in permanent collections in New York, England and China.


The Artist’s Innovation Awards were established by the Montana Arts Council to foster environments where the innovation and creativity of artists are valued and celebrated. The awards are directed to artists who have demonstrated:

  • Extraordinary innovation in their work and artwork
  • Outstanding originality and dedication in their creative pursuits
  • A marked capacity for self-direction

The first round of Artist's Innovation Awards were offered to visual artists at the end of the past fiscal year. The second group of awards will be offered in fiscal year 2010 to literary and performing artists. Application information and the deadline will be released later this year.


For more about the art program at MSU Billings and its faculty, go to