Val Cushing, known for his uniquely thrown ceramic vessels, was born in 1931 in Rochester, NY. He obtained his BFA and MFA from the School of Art and Design, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, and in 1957 became a professor of ceramics. His sturdy pieces rest comfortably between art and function, and are glazed in earthen colors such as ocher, brown, moss green, and blue. The artist associates these colors with autumn in the Northeast. The Acorn jar became his signature vessel, reflecting themes of birth, growth, and nurturing in nature. Along with Alfred University, Cushing has taught at multiple establishments such as National School of Art and Design in Oslo, Norway, Manchester Polytechnic in Manchester, England, and at the School of Art at the University of Illinois. He also has won awards such as Ceramic Artist of the Year Award in 1981 by the American Ceramic Society, and the Fellow of the American Crafts Council in 1987. He has held many solo and group exhibitions all throughout the country, and is part of a variety of public collections such as the American Craft Museum, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Ohi Museum of Ceramics in Japan, and Museum of Ceramic Arts at Alfred University.