Frances Senska received her bachelor’s and master’s of art degrees in the 1930s. She moved to Bozeman, after a four-year stint in the Navy, in 1946. During her first year teaching at Montana State College, she began creating a ceramics studio in an old storeroom in the basement of Herrick Hall. Senska worked alongside her students, teaching by example and through immersing herself in the process. She knew what she was talking about because she was actively involved with pursuing her own interests in the work.  Senska met Jessie Wilber at MSU (MSC) in 1946. At that time, the art program was called the Department of Applied Art and was housed with the home economics department. Senska and Wilber, plus department head Cyril Conrad and Bob DeWeese, who joined the faculty in 1948, formed the core of the art program for the next two decades. In 1984, Senska was awarded an MSU honorary doctorate. In 1988, Senska and Wilber were co-recipients of the Montana Governor’s Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts. To this day, the Montana Arts Council issues a yearly award called the Jessie Wilber and Frances Senska Individual Artist Award to a ceramics artist.

Frances Senska became known as the 'grandmother of ceramics in Montana,' partly because of the illustrious list of students who passed through her classroom and also because of her steady output of beautiful pottery that has come to live in many homes in the state and abroad.

Frances Senska

Photo: Linda Best photo / Bozeman Daily Chronicle / 1988