Born to Presbyterian missionary parents in Cameroon, Frances Senska harbored a deep appreciation for the earth, local materials, and being surrounded by nature from her memories of Africa. Upon the outbreak of World War Two, she trained as a pilot. Following the war, she took ceramics courses from Edith Heath and Maija Grotell, and went on to found the ceramics program at Montana State University in Bozeman in 1946. Senska emphasized learning through doing and encouraged her students to express their own personal vision through clay. Among her students were Peter Voulkos and Rudy Autio. She was influential in the founding and development of the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana.