Thank You, Brian Hirt


Being a master ceramicist and instructor is not only about the skill. 

Directing hundreds of classes, crossing all walks of life, leading with compassion and patience are traits of a good teacher.


Brian Hirt began his journey at the Kirk Newman Art School as a studio technician in 1980, working with former Ceramics Chair and Art School Director Tom Kendall. Hirt briefly left the KIA to obtain his Masters of Fine Arts from Ohio University then returned as a ceramics instructor. Over the years, Hirt has helped to create a positive, open environment for learning and creativity within the Kirk Newman Art School ceramics studios, he has shown students that they always possess creativity even if they do not recognize it. His teaching methods allowed the students to be idealists.


“I love it. I love teaching. I think what excites me is the relationships between teacher and student. I do not say – do this or do that but instead, here is how you can put this together. The ideas come from you, the student, you are the creators,” Hirt said. 


In 2007, he accepted the greater challenge of leading the department as the new ceramics chair. 


Art School Director Denise Lisiecki says, “After working with Brian through the years, I discovered a compassionate, kind, and helpful person. He has been a knowledgeable teacher, an understanding department leader, and a good friend. His remarkable contribution to the ceramics department, the Kirk Newman Art School, and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts will be greatly missed.”


Compassion can be shown in many forms. For Brian’s students, it was more than just a simple “good morning” and waves that made an impact.

Jana Hanka started as Brian’s assistant in 2007.


“He is patient. He may not see himself like that, but he is patient and he does not jump to quick decisions. That is a great way to do things,” she said. 


Working with high temperatures up to 1,850 degrees in Hirt’s Raku class, Kathy Hughes and Bruce Bowen said he encouraged togetherness in a hands-on, relaxed, and friendly atmosphere.  


“Brian is encouraging in a sense that you say ‘will this work?’ He will say ‘give it a try,’” Hughes said. 


“He is so caring, very informative, knowledgeable, and steered me in a direction to make better quality projects,” Bowen said. 


On behalf of everyone at the KIA, the KNAS, students, and the community, thank you, thank you, thank you and we will miss you.     


Don’t miss Hirt’s works on view in the Kirk Newman Art School Faculty Review until March 13, 2022.