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Meet Jessica Swanson, MFA

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Jessica Swanson

Department: Product Design Program

Meet Jessica Swanson, MFA

  • Areas of tutoring expertise:
  • Ceramics, sculpture, drawing, core studio in art and design, portfolio development and presentation, product design development, and prototyping
  • What brought you to the University of Oregon?
  • When the opportunity to teach at the University of Oregon in the School of Architecture and Allied Arts opened up, I was excited to become a part of this community, strong in its diversity of students and programs. It has enriched my classroom experience, my own work, and my life. I like that Eugene values a healthy environment—the farmers markets are excellent. Eugene’s proximity to Portland is also a plus for me.
  • How did you get involved in art and design?
  • For as long as I can remember I've been making art. In college, I wanted to pursue either art or environmental studies and biochemistry. My professors, however, revealed to me that art is interdisciplinary; I learned to weave together my interests to explore them further. I found that ceramics incorporates chemistry in glaze formulation and questions of functional design, and I saw the ecological benefits offered by useful artistic objects in every day life.

    Since I’ve been at the University of Oregon, I've had the great fortune to collaborate on projects that intertwine my interests, like growing mosses and barnacles on ceramic forms. It’s remarkable to me that when I chose a major in college it did not exclude the development of my earlier curiosities. I am still learning about marine biology, local ecology, and sociology, and I occasionally study German just for fun, even though I'm not at all fluent…yet!
  • What’s the best advice you have for a college student?
  • My mentor in college continually said I needed to “really push” my work. It’s important to embrace struggles, and even failure. I still attempt to create things that should not be possible and fail until I figure it out. Challenges we encounter are great opportunities for learning. Remember that failure is normal as you move toward your personal goals. 

    Another piece of advice is to get involved, even if you’re not very outgoing. Interacting with only a few people who share your interests is equally formative and enjoyable; however, practicing open mindedness and compassion for others without common ground will help you grow just as much. Finally, read something just for fun from time to time. I often find when I do this it is a starting place for new work in my field.
  • How can students contact you?
  • Visit me on Thursdays in Barnhart Hall during my office hours from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., and you can find me dining there beforehand as well. Also, I will attend a brunch on either Saturdays or Sundays, or both! If these times can’t work for you, e-mail me at to set up an appointment. I hope students will stop by because I love to hear about students’ lives!