Artist  Bio 

An innovative artist and art educator for more than thirty years, Syma now has a studio workspace at Treasure Island Studios in Red Hook Brooklyn.  Currently a freelance museum educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she also leads family art-making activities at the Asia Society Museum. Syma has led intergenerational art-making workshops at MAD Museum, the Fuller Craft Museum, the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, MA; and at the British Museum in London, England. This spring she completed a teaching artist residency at the Carter Burden Senior Center in East Harlem, and an Abrons Arts Center ceramic teaching artist residency for a Brooklyn Middle School.

Syma was selected to participate in the 2016 OPEN STUDIO RESIDENCY at Haystack Mt School of Crafts in Maine. She has also received numerous artist grants and awards, including a two-time residency in the studios at the MAD Museum; a stipend, from the US National Endowment for the Arts, and an EARTHWATCH fellowship for an archaeological dig in Mallorca, Spain. Syma was selected to participate in the 2006 International Architectural Ceramics Symposium at ICSHU, in Kecskemet, Hungary. She is the recipient of a grant from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund in support of her recently completed collaborative permanent public art project: 'Memories and Wishes', created with participation of elder residents of Lower East Side public housing. 

In 2006, Red Door Gallery in London presented a solo show of her smoke-fired ceramics with 24k gold leaf. Inspired by artifacts and mythologies of ancient cultures, this series was begun as Syma’s response to living in England.

A former proprietor of a contemporary craft gallery in Hingham, MA. in the 1970s,  Syma has exhibited her clay and mixed media works throughout the US., and more recently in the UK. Collectors of Syma’s work include the Art Complex Museum, Duxbury, MA; Susan Paine, Cambridge, MA; Chris Rifkin, Boston, MA; Barbara Meyer, Malibu, CA; Michael Heller, of Heller Gallery, NYC; Sydney and Ann Levinson, London, UK;  and Krz Mazeika, London, UK.

Since 1985, Syma has worked in collaboration with American architects, private clients, and industry, to design and fabricate site-specific, bas-relief panels. Her monumental cast concrete and sculpted brick architectural details have been integrated into Philadelphia and Boston area building facades. Smaller scale projects include a ceramic sculpted tile fireplace surround, created as a visual interpretation of a client's poem, and sculpted tile representations of the elements of Chinese medicine for the treatment rooms of a New York City doctor.

During her extensive visiting-artist/teaching career, Syma has worked with children, teens, adults, senior citizens, and hospitalized patients in locked wards, encouraging each person to express his or her own creativity through the arts. Many New York and Boston area schools contain permanent installations of site-specific art designed by Syma’s students. She has taught ceramics at City University of New York’s Kingsborough campus in Brooklyn, and at New York City’s Greenwich House Pottery.

Syma is now teaching semi-private art-making workshops for families, in her Brooklyn art studio.  Adult drawing and special clay technique workshops will follow soon after.

Syma is the artist formally known as Marsha Syma Gordon Komarin Afia.


2006          Red Door Gallery, London, UK

2006          Eton Applied Arts Gallery, Windsor, UK

2003          Greek Institute Gallery, Cambridge, MA.     

1994          Soho 20 Gallery, NY, NY.

1986         Art Complex Museum, Duxbury, MA.

1981          Clemens Gallery,Hingham, MA.


2017           Public Celebration- Modern Version of Ancient Print-making, Carter Burden Senior Center, NY, NY.

                    FACULTY SHOW, Abrons Arts Center, NY, NY.

                        A CALL TO ACTION, Kustera Projects Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.

2016           STUFF(ed), Sweet Lorraine Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

                    The really, really Affordable Art $how, Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC), Brooklyn, NY.

                 ART in CLAY, BWAC Galleries, Brooklyn, NY.

                    BROOKLYN is..., BWAC Galleries, Brooklyn, NY.

                            RECYCLE, BWAC Galleries, Brooklyn, NY.

                    Metropolitan Museum of Art (employee art show) NY, NY. 

2015           ART in CLAY, BWAC Galleries, Brooklyn, NY.

2014           Contemporary Ceramics National Biennale, Western Colorado Center for the Arts, Grand Junction, CO.      

                    Metropolitan Museum of Art, (employee art show) NY, NY.

2013           Invitational group show at Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA.

2012           Metropolitan Museum of Art, (employee art show) NY, NY.         

                    A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.   

                    Sweet Lorraine Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.

2011          International Triennial of Silicate Arts, Cifrapalota Gallery, Kecskemet, HUNGARY

                   Sweet Lorraine Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.    

2010          Metropolitan Museum of Art, (employee art show) NY, NY. 

2009          Teal Art Gallery, Breckenridge, CO.

                 Vessels Gallery, Boston, MA.

                   Sweet Lorraine Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.

2008          A.I.R. Gallery, NY, NY. 

2007          Metropolitan Museum of Art, (employee art show) NY, NY.

2006          Lesley Craze Gallery, London, UK

                   London Potters Select at the Ice House Gallery, Holland Park, London, UK 

2005          London Potters Select at Broadway Ceramics, London, UK

                   Metropolitan Museum of Art, (employee art show) NY, NY.

2005          Morley Gallery, London, UK,

2005          Chilstone Garden Gallery, Kent, UK

2004          Morley Gallery, London, UK,

                   Paddon and Paddon Gallery, Eastbourne, UK

2003          Cockpit Arts Showcase, Canary Wharf, London, UK

                   Metropolitan Museum of Art, (employee art show) NY, NY.

                   Chilstone Garden Gallery, Kent, UK

2002          Boston Architectural Center, Boston, MA.

2000           Metropolitan Museum of Art, (employee art show) NY, NY.

1996          Hartsook Gallery, NY, NY.

1995          Artemesia Gallery, Chicago, IL.

                   Soho 20 Gallery, NY, NY.

1994          San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Antonio, TX.

1979          Provincetown Art Museum, Provincetown, MA.

1967          Art Students League Concours, NY, NY.


  2015-13    Participatory Public Art: hand-made tiles with Lower East Side elders in public housing, NY, NY.

  2011         Sculpted, glazed tiles for fireplace of private home, Hull, MA.

  2009         Sculpted, glazed tile with mixed media mural for public space: Natural Science Center, Norwell, MA.

  2003         Sculpted tiles for medical center office of Dr. Frank Lipman, NY, NY.

  2002         Sculpted, glazed tile borders for home of New York playwrights John Pielmeier and Irene O’Garden

  2001         Sculpted, glazed tile borders for home of New York playwrights John Pielmeier and Irene O’Garden

1997          Sculpted, glazed tile borders for office of New York playwright John Pielmeier

1993          Hand-cast, moulded sculptured brick panels for exterior facade, Gutman Library, Philadelphia         University, PA. 

1991          Prototype for fiberglass gargoyle fountain, private courtyard, Acton, MA.

1989          Precast concrete sculpted spandrel panels for exterior facade: Harvard Medical  Building, MA.

1986          Hand-cast, sculptured brick pediments for exterior facade of Townhouses, Boston,MA.


                   Agnes Vares, NY, NY.

                  Michael Heller, Heller Gallery, NY, NY.

                  Chris Rifkin, Boston, MA.

                  Susan Paine, Cambridge, MA.

                  Barbara P. Meyer, Malibu, CA.

                  Sydney and Ann Levinson, London, UK

                  Art Complex Museum, Duxbury, MA.

                  Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, PA.

                  Yuko Nii Foundation, Brooklyn, NY.


2016           “Brick Sculpting” http://dynamicsofmasonry.com/index.php/current-issue-vol-2-no-6/brick-sculpting

2016            “Mudpies and Magic...http://www.bohohome.com/2016/07/everyday-artist-mudpies-and-magic-plus.html

2016            ‘SHOWS TO SEE’ American Craft Magazine, January. p.23

2015            Participatory Public Art Project included in blog: http://www.leshistorymonth.org/les-elders/

2013            work featured in '5000 Years of Tiles' published by British Museum Press.

2012            http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120807/manhattan/art-project-preserves-seniors-memories-clay

2011           ‘Making my Living’,  Insight Magazine, Vol IV Issue 3, pp. 38-47.

                     'Hot Events around the Hub', The Boston Globe,  March 24.

2009           http://www.summitdaily.com/article/20090520/AE/905209981 'Creative Clay Artist Comes to Breckenridge'

                    '...Guest Artist Syma' Summit News Video

2008           '...Artist Syma' Another Summit News Video-on YouTube

2007           ‘The Art of Placemaking, Interpreting Community Through Public Art and Urban Design, by Ronald Lee Fleming, Merrell

                     Publishers, pp146-149

2006           ‘The Future is Bright for British Crafts’, Creative Week,  London, UK, July. p.34

                    ‘GALLERY’ Ceramic Review, UK, January/February

2005           ‘GALLERY’ Ceramic Review, UK, January/February

                    ‘UPFRONT’ Ceramics Monthly, May

2004           London Potters Newsletters, UK

                    ‘Discovery: Fifty Years of Craft Experience at Haystack School of Crafts’ by Carl Little

2003           ‘Architectural Ornamentation: Fragments and Elements',Ceramics Monthly, Feb.

1995           ‘Sculpted Brick: Art and Architecture’, Architecture Magazine, September.

1993           ‘Artist’s Many Endeavors Feed the Muse’, Boston Globe, 2/14/93

1990           Costuire in Laterizio, ITALY. Anno.3N, Maggia-Giuno. p.179

1989           The Once and Future Goddess, by Elinor W. Gadon, Harper and Row, pp. 264-5.

1986           ‘A Sculptor’s Outdoor Motifs’, Boston Globe, 6/27/86


2017            SUCASA teaching Artist residency Grant - LMCC- Carter Burden Senior Center, East Harlem, NY.

2017            Teaching Artist Residency - Abrons Arts Center Outreach - Clay in the Classroom, Middle School 88, Brooklyn, NY

2016            Blue Ribbon: National Art in Clay Exhibition, BWAC, Brooklyn, NY.

2016                OPEN STUDIO Residency Award, Haystack Mt School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine

2014               Artist-in-Residence: Town of Breckenridge, CO.

2012            MCAF Grant for Ceramic Tile Public Art Project: 'Memories-and-Wishes', NY, NY.

                    Partial Kiln God Residency Award: Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts

2010            Artist-in-Residence: Museum of Arts and Design, NY, NY.

2009            Artist-in-Residence: Town of Breckenridge, CO.

2008             Artist-in-Residence: Town of Breckenridge, CO.

                      Artist-in-Residence: Art Complex Museum, Duxbury, MA.

2007-1983    Numerous Artist-in-Residence Grants/ Community Arts Projects in MA and NY.

2006             Artist-in-Residence: Architectural Ceramics Symposium: ICSHU, HUNGARY    

1994             Artist Fellowship: ‘EARTHWATCH’ Archaeology Dig, Mallorca, SPAIN

                      Art in Architecture Award Finalist, Boston Society of Architects, MA.

1985             Stipend, National Endowment for the Arts


2017                    SuCasa, LMCC Teaching Artist at Carter Burden Covello Senior Center, NY, NY.

2017                      Teaching Artist, Abrons Arts Center outreach in Middle School 88, Brooklyn, NY.

2017              Private Museum Tours for Children, NY, NY.

2017-1999    Museum educator: Free lance Contractual Teaching Artist: Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY.

2017-2011     Family Day drop in activities: clay; printmaking: Asia Society Museum, NY, NY.

2014              Clay mono prints for adults and for families, Arts District, Breckenridge, CO.

2012-2011     Volunteer for Guggenheim Museum 'Still Spotting' projects, NY, NY.

2011-2010     Studio Sundays (weaving, clay, metal foil): MAD Museum. NY, NY.

2010              Teaching artist for Nurture Art Education Outreach, NY, NY.

2009              Barrel-Firing event: Fuller Museum of Crafts, Brockton, MA.

2009              Tile making: Arts District, Breckenridge, CO.

2009-08        Artist-in-residence for Town of Breckenridge, CO.

2008              Ceramic masks workshop: Colorado Mountain College, Breckenridge, CO.

2008              Art Complex Museum, Duxbury, MA.

2007-06 and

2002-1996:    Teaching Artist: NYC Public Schools- Arts Connection, in all 5 boroughs of New York City.

2004              Pottery workshops at the British Museum, London, UK

2003              Hands-on demos at Cockpit Arts Deptford, London, UK

2003-02        Adjunct ceramics instructor: City University of New York, Kingsborough Campus, Brooklyn, NY.

2003-1998     Handbuilding Pottery for Adults: West Side YMCA, NY, NY.

2002-1998     Pottery for Senior Citizens: Hamilton Madison House, NY, NY.  

2002-1997     Parent and Child Ceramics, and Children’s Ceramics at Greenwich House Pottery, NY, NY.

1990              Masks and Tiles (Personal/Architectural): Miami Ceramics League, FL.

1987              Mask-making: Haystack Student Craft Institute, Deer Isle, ME.

1994-86           Boston area Public Schools - Artist Foundation and MA Cultural Council residencies.

1984-83          So. Shore Collaborative for Special Needs Children/Teens, Boston area, MA.

1983                 Cotting School for Handicapped Children, Boston, MA.

EDUCATION: B.S., Psychology and Art, University of Pittsburgh, PA.

                        Ceramic Workshops with: Jack Earl, Paul Soldner, Gerry Williams, Stephen Dixon, John and Andrea Gill, Winnie Owens

                                Hart, Marilyn Dintenfass.

                        Art Courses (45 graduate credits): University of Paris (France), New York University, Harvard University, Columbia

                               University, Hunter College, Art Students League, Monmouth College, Mass. College of Art, Lesley College, Salem

                               State College, Women’s Interart Center, Decordova Museum, Radcliffe Pottery, Boulder Community Pottery, Worcester

                               Crafts Center, Exeter Crafts Center, and Haystack Mt. School of Crafts.

                        Selected for 1 year Development of Professional Practice: Cockpit Arts, London, UK

Syma © 2017