CERAMIC TOP 4O
Ferrin Contemporary Red Star Studios at Belger Crane Yard Studios Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard
CERAMIC TOP 4O Ferrin Contemporary Red Star Studios at Belger Crane Yard Studios Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard
catalog © 2014 Ferrin Contemporary ISBN 978-0-9904312-1-3 cover image © 2013 Red Star Studios, Adam Bird images © Courtesy Garis and Hahn Gallery, New York, Stephen Bowers images © Grant Hancock, Doda Designs images © Red Star Studios, Thomas Lowell Edwards images © Thomas Lowell Edwards, Michelle Erickson images © Robert Hunter, Léopold Foulem images © Richard Milette, Misty Gamble images © E.G. Schempf, Giselle Hicks images © John Polak, Brian R. Jones top: © Jones Stephen Funk and right: © Red Star Studios, Steven Young Lee right: © Alan Wiener courtesy of Greenwich House Pottery, Linda Lighton image © E. G. Schempf, Ron Nagle images © Red Star Studios, Kate Roberts images © Red Star Studios, Paul Scott images © John Polak, Richard Shaw images © Alice Shaw, Spoon Project images © Thomas Cheong, Emily Sudd images © Lisa Talbot, Tip Toland images © Red Star Studios, Shalene Valenzuela images © Chris Autio. Each of the artists statements were created by a combination of the artists themselves, friends, and the catalog production group.
CERAMIC TOP 4O This survey exhibition of contemporary ceramic art features work by both established and up-and-coming artists working on the cutting edge of current processes, ideas, and presentation concepts in conceptual, utilitarian, and sculptural ceramics.
Red Star Studios at Belger Crane Yard Studios in Kansas City, Missouri, hosted the
inaugural show in 2013. Selections from this show as well as new work was exhibited at the Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard, in Boston, in 2014.
The shows were curated by Leslie Ferrin of Ferrin Contemporary.
THE ARTISTS Susan Beiner
Steven Young Lee
Stephanie A. Rozene
Aya Margulis and Rae'ut Stern
Thomas Lowell Edwards
Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis
The Spoon Project:
Peter Christian Johnson
Brian R. Jones
INTRODUCTION Ceramic Top 40 (CT40) is one of those “get what you give” or “be careful what you wish for” projects that began as a fairly simple idea and then proceeded to chart a course of its own. From idea to realization, the more I gave, the more it took. As I look back now, I know I got more than I gave. It seemed like a good idea at the time and in the end, it was. The idea for CT40 was inspired in 2012 by the efforts of another curator, Nicholas Bell, who produced 40 under 40: Craft Futures to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Renwick Gallery. Bell’s show was an ambitious, well-funded survey of studio craft across all media, featuring works by artists born after 1972 who were said to not only represent the current moment in the studio craft field, but also to imagine its future. When I reviewed the exhibition and the list of artists, I was struck by the ratio of ceramics within the survey: just three out of the 40 artists were connected to ceramics, and only one artist physically made the work herself. The category of “clay” or “ceramics” historically made up a larger and more significant segment of all-media surveys and was possibly the dominant medium at this moment in the history of the post -1950 studio craft movement. The lack of attention to this category in 40 Under 40: Craft Futures came at a time when ceramic art was entering the fine art world through the front doors of New York’s Chelsea galleries, was fully integrated into the international art fair scene, and was featured on the cover of major publications such as Art News and Art in America. Why weren’t ceramics better represented in this exhibition when suddenly clay was everywhere? Bell’s interests were less about the skill or material. They leaned more towards exploring a broader ideal focusing on the inherent value of objects. “Craft isn’t necessarily about making an object out of a certain material, or the way you make it. It is about valuing the actual making of things, regardless of how you do it,” Bell explained. However, many artists and professionals whose careers are entwined with the clay community and craft culture, asked each other: If only three artists affiliated with ceramics were selected, then who were the others, under 40 years of age, who were not included in this exhibition? And in the context of a larger pool, how do Bell’s choices reflect on the questions posed and revealed through 40 Under 40: Craft Futures for the subset of artists who work primarily in ceramics? At the same time as Bell was leading his project, artists, galleries, and institutions such as his, whose identities were built around the field of studio craft, were all facing challenges that they had never experienced. With the economic collapse of 2008, many private collectors curtailed their purchases as a result of reduced income or an uncertainty about the future economic climate. As acquisition budgets for private and public collectors were reduced, the era when sales alone could fuel artists’ careers ended. Exhibition programs shrank. Many collectors, their heirs, and artists themselves chose to downsize or completely deaccession their collections by making
gifts and selling their collections. For institutions, this created a pool of work to choose from which museums and galleries drew upon for exhibitions and building public collections. The auction market grew and the recession continued, prices by still-producing living artists were affected by the saturated marketplace. This left emerging and mid-career artists frustrated by a lack of opportunities and the financial support for new works they were creating. As faculty retired at art schools and universities, the curricula began to reflect on the history of studio craft rather than the practice of it. A new generation of museum curators with training in contemporary decorative arts began to work alongside those who had first brought studio craft into the institutional collections. As the torch was passed, salaried and benefited positions in studio art turned over to a new generation who could now take advantage of a system of support that allowed their creativity to flourish in new directions, less dependent on incomes driven by sales or a patchwork of jobs. Faced with expanded opportunities for producing new work and reduced opportunities for marketing it, mid-career artists began to approach the making and exhibition of their work in new ways. Many began to employ new technologies during the five years that followed the economic collapse of 2008. Publications adapted to online distribution models or ended their run. Social media became one of the primary means of communication between artists, patrons, museums, galleries, and the public. Computer assisted design, digital imagery, and 3-D printers became commonplace tools. New systems for selling utilitarian objects shifted towards independent, guerrilla marketing approaches such as DIY, Renegade, and ALT as well as to direct marketing through internet outlets such as ETSY. Sales from artistsâ€™ own websites and studios began to replace traditional relationships with brick-and-mortar galleries, shops, and the public. All these forces colliding within just five years presented a challenge for producing artists, their collectors, and the curators who dealt with the objects they made. How were the ceramic artists who were emerging and in the middle of their careers coping with the challenges of the day? How were they embracing new technology, and how were they finding new ways to produce and present their work in this changing world? Ceramic Top 40 was an effort to answer these questions and fill the gap that 40 under 40: Craft Futures had left open for discussion. With that in mind, I turned a blind eye to the sluggish economy and went forward with CT40, applying the usual zeal and passion for discovering new ideas, young artists, and creating another opportunity for art to be made, shown, and sold. I saw a hole to fill and stepped into it with both feet. Leslie Ferrin Director of Ferrin Contemporary Fall 2014
WHY HERE? WHY NOW? Looking back, it seems almost predestined that curator Leslie Ferrin's stunning Ceramic Top 40 | 2013 would premiere in Kansas City at the new Belger Crane Yard Studios complex, rather than in Leslie's own gallery in western Massachusetts. You could say that the exhibition was the result of extensive planning between Leslie and Michael Baxley, the gallery manager of Red Star Studios, one of the anchors of the spacious Crane Yard complex. Those two began working out the details of Top 40 in early 2013. But it goes back further than that.
You could say the seeds were sown in early 2010 when Evelyn Craft Belger and her hus-
band, Dick Belger, decided to take Red Star Studios into the fold of the Belger Arts Center. Evelyn is a strong believer that a healthy art scene makes for a healthy community. Dick, who served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Art Institute decades ago, says he tired of students graduating from KCAI and taking their innovations, skills, and talents, elsewhere. He had been looking for years to add a studio component to the exhibition spaces of the Belger Arts Center.
But it goes back further than that. As Leslie sifted through the stacks of applications she
noticed many of the artists had Kansas City connections, either as current residents or graduates of KCAI. In the final show there are seven KCAI grads (Jessica Brandl, Guy Michael Davis, Linda Lighton, Roberto Lugo, Lauren Mabry, Katie Parker and Robert Silverman) and three Kansas City residents (Andy Brayman, Misty Gamble and Rain Harris). That's a healthy percentage for a midsized, midwestern city in an international exhibition.
Kansas City is the hub of a strong region of ceramic artists and their collectors. Kansas
State University, The University of Kansas, University of Missouri, and University of Nebraska, are all day trips away from Kansas City and attract students to their MFA programs. The Daum Museum in Sedalia, Missouri, and the permanent collection at the Johnson County Community College are filled with stellar examples of contemporary ceramics. There are many breath-taking private collections in Kansas City, and the student exhibitions have drawn great support from the community for many years. Over the years galleries such as the Morgan Gallery, Lennie Berkowitz (partnered with Garth Clark), Byron Cohen, Leedy-Voulkos, Sherry Leedy, Dolphin, Haw, and others have featured artists working in clay. The three local art museums, the Nelson-Atkins, the Nerman, and the Kemper all have presented major ceramics exhibitions over the years, too. And just up I-29 in Omaha is Jun Kaneko's studio, one of the wonders of the ceramics world.
But why Kansas City? In 1963 someone at KCAI convinced Ken Ferguson to leave the
Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT, and take over the ceramics classes at the small private school on Warwick Boulevard. Ken, a boisterous extrovert, had studied at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, and between his Alfred and Montana connections had already developed a network of people who strongly believed American ceramics was a field with a future. Students and visiting artists came from all over the world to see what was hap-
pening at KCAI. Ken ran the department until his retirement in 1996. When Professor Victor Babu left teaching in 2002, more than 200 former students attended his retirement party. At the end of the party Ken, who had significant health problems by this time, rose from the back of the room and joined Victor and George Timock at the head table. For once, he kept his remarks brief, â€œI got here in 1963 and Victor came in 1968. Timock came in 1973. Those were the best years of my life.â€? (George is now in his 41st year at KCAI and Paul Donnelly joined the Ceramics faculty in 2008.)
When Ken retired in 1996 the school offered the Chair of Ceramics position to my wife,
Cary Esser. Cary and I had a good life in North Carolina, surrounded by family and old friends, and were not really looking to move away from all that. But, the KCAI offer was special. Cary and Ken could probably not have been more dissimilar in personality and physicality, but they shared one important trait, they passionately believed that Kansas City clay matters. The school is often cited for its alumni from the Ferguson days: Donna Polseno, Kurt Weiser, Richard Notkin, Alice Hohenberg Federico, Chris Gustin, Sarah Jaeger, Akio Takamori, and on and on. But the tradition of assembling dozens of talented young artists and giving them a nurturing environment continues. In the fall of 2012 Ceramics Monthly released their annual national Undergraduate Showcase. Among the nine students cited for producing exemplary work that year were four KCAI students. As Leslie put her show together a year later, she sought a balance between artists over age 40 and under age 40. It was not too surprising to see all those recent grads included in the under 40 category. Clay still matters in Kansas City. And it matters in Maine and Montana and Minneapolis and Massachusetts. It matters in places like Arizona, Florida, Philadelphia, North Carolina, and California and other hot spots around the country. It matters. Maybe more than ever. Mo Dickens Gallery Assistant at Belger Arts Center January 2014
THANK YOU TO THE ARTISTS who submitted their work and waited patiently while the project defined itself amidst many changing circumstances. TO OUR FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES, AND READERS who encouraged me to see this project and its catalog through to the end despite the challenges along the way. TO RAE'UT STERN for volunteering to work on this catalog, without her initial efforts, we could not have gotten the catalog off the ground. TO TONY MARSH who helped with a long conversation about clay today, abstraction, and original artistic thought. Without his ear and voice, I might have stumbled as I sorted out the final selections from the 475 submissions. TO LYNN ZIMMERMAN and BILL FOSHER of Lucky Dog Design who patiently saw this project through design, edit, and production of the print and online versions. TO THE COLLECTORS who supported the project, our venues, and the artists through acquisitions of important works from this exhibition. TO THE BELGER FAMILY for their faith in this project and support of it by providing the beautiful space in which it came to life and their experienced staff who handled installation, logistics, and transportation. TO MICHAEL BAXLEY and MO DICKENS at Red Star Studios at Belger Crane Yard Studios and KATHY KING and SHAWN PANEPINTO at the Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard, for their time and dedication to sharing this show with their communities. TO THE STAFF, VOLUNTEERS, and STUDIO MEMBERS who jumped in to help organize, pack, install, and ship this show from Cummington and Allston, Massachusetts and Kansas City, Missouri. Thank you, Leslie
CERAMIC TOP 4O
Susan Beiner SusanBeinerCeramics.com Phoenix, AZ, USA
Germinating Domes, 2012. Porcelain, acrylic rods, foam, thread, wire, rubber,
b. 1962 Newark, New Jersey
Susan Beinerâ€™s deep concern for the environment informs her work with a message of warning. As we continue to deplete the earthâ€™s natural resources in ways both know and unknown, plant structures are responding and attempting to adapt but sterility and extinction are still real possibilities. In trying to balance these challenges, we are controlling the growth and characteristics of plant life by promoting hybrids and germinating new plant species in laboratory-controlled environments. The results of experiments in these artificial environments, which are reproduced repeatedly for commercial needs, create a flora rich in color, but artificial and sterile. Germinating is from a of group similar forms that were originally exhibited within a grid pattern on the floor. These dome-like forms with protruding acrylic stems represent seed growth in a greenhouse sprouting artificial flora. Beiner uses her work to communicate the need for a global change in attitudes towards and awareness of the harm we are causing to the botanical health of our planet.
1993 MFA, Ceramics University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA 1985 BFA, Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts, New Brunswick, NJ, USA
40 x 46 x 45â€?.
Robin Best FerrinContemporary.com Jingdezhen, China b.1953 Perth, Australia 1976 BA, Ceramics Design, South Australian School of Art, AUS 1993 MA, Visual Arts, University of South Australia, AUS
The Wallace Line, 2013. Porcelain, on-glaze painting, 8 x 4".
With a strong interest in Sino culture, Robin Best has lived and worked in the old porcelain city of Jingdezhen, China for five years. Here, Chinese artisans assist her to make the fine translucent porcelain that carry her on-glaze history paintings. She has been trained in both Chinese Xin Cai (oil painting on porcelain) and the German equivalent of Meissen oil painting in the Oriental style. Best, a traveler herself, says she is particularly interested in the travels of natural history painter scientists of the 18th and 19th centuries. â€œThey combined their scientific curiosity with discovery, boarding vessels for far off lands, there to gather all manner of exotic plants and animals to bring back to hungry collectors in Europe,â€? she said. This piece, The Wallace Line, is the story of one such collector, Alfred Douglas Wallace, an amateur scientist who studied species distribution between the Indonesian archipelago and Australasia. His work led to the recognition of the Wallace Line, an imaginary line drawn through the Celebes Sea. On one side of the line live Asian tigers and monkeys and on the other there are Australian marsupial kangaroos and the beautiful birds of paradise of New Guinea. Bestâ€™s work successfully merges internationally-sourced materials, traditional techniques, and historic imagery with contemporary themes of natural preservation and environmentalism. Through her work, Best raises awareness of important historical events still relevant today.
Stephen Bird StephenBird.net Sydney, NSW, AUS and Dundee, UK b.1964 Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, UK 1987 BA, Fine Art, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, UK
Persian Blue Shoot Out, 2012. Earthenware, pigment, glaze, 15.75 x 19.75". Courtesy Garis and Hahn Gallery, New York.
Many of Stephen Bird’s ceramic forms may have been influenced by his birthplace – Stoke-on-Trent in the English Midlands where ceramic wares were mass-produced during 18th and 19th century — but the imagery is his own. His subjects are subversive: investigations of contemporary suburban life, popular culture, war, violence, politics, and religion. These he explores within universal themes of love, death, birth and life. He explains: “My ceramic works locate themselves in an invented world where dissonant cultural idioms come together to form a new mythology.” Why a shoot out in the Garden of Eden? Bird replies, “I use humor, propaganda, trompe l’oeil and meaningless violence to retell archetypal myths and make observations about complex collective issues including politics, cultural imperialism and the global power struggle.” Themes of social criticism and commentary have become integral parts of much of contemporary ceramics. Bird’s use of classic forms, familiar imagery, and powerful design makes these ponderous issues more accessible at a personal level for the audience.
Stephen Bowers FerrinContemporary.com Norwood, South Australia, AUS
Walk the Plank, 2013. Handmade surfboard (shaped by Peter Walker from
b.1952 Katoomba, New South Wales, AUS
This work reconfigures blue willow pattern; allowing it to become something of a new folk tale, set within its borders, an illustration that draws audiences into the zone of action, into the world of pirate willow, inviting us to walk the plank, cross the bridge, go out to the island, and behind the scenes. In this silhouetted and floating world, successive layers of images appear where pirates abound. Chinese pagodas and bridges are replaced with New England lighthouses and suspension bridges. Even the title â€“ Walk the Plank - plays on buccaneer executions and surfboard lore in this surreal surf culture piece. The complex world of willow harbour is awash with new images and strange undercurrents. The classic cobalt dreamscape of archipelagos, islands and mainland become a map of poetic pirate fantasy.
paulownia timber), painted decoration, fiber-glass, resin, 7'7" x 22". Explorersâ€™ Skulls, 2010, slip cast, oxide stains, underglaze, clear glaze, 5.25". photos: Grant Hancock
Jessica Brandl Kansas City, MO, USA JessicaBrandl.com b.1983 Austin, TX, USA 2009 MFA, Ceramics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Interpretation of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem of 1798), 2013. Terracotta, white slip, engobe, glaze, 28 x 34 x 10".
Using the familiar format of the souvenir or commemorative platter, Brandl references both personal history and classical literature to reveal insights into social conventions, culture, and psychological tension. "This piece presents a flowing congregation of objects that unassumingly drift out onto the broad plains of Nebraska," Brandl said. "The interior space references a landscape with minuscule figures traversing the debris, while the exterior reality of the structure is a long vacant church surrounded by undulating tall grass. This ghostly structure, carrying a disarray of refugee objects, illustrates a desire to save and improve. But the subsequent neglect relates to human fragility and lost intention. The eloquence expressed by this interior landscape seeks to communicate the importance of looking inward for a better understanding of meaning and identity in the world."
Andy Brayman Kansas City, MO, USA MatterFactory.com b. Alton, IL, USA 1996 BA Sociology and BFA Ceramics, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA 1998 MFA, Ceramics New York State College of Ceramic Art, Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA
Black Vase with Yellow and Green, 2013. Porcelain, glaze, decals, 19 x 10 x 7".
Beth Cavener Helena, MT, USA FollowTheBlackRabbit.com b. 1972 Pasadena, CA, USA
Obariyon, 2013. Stoneware, antique hooks, metal armature, 17 x 46 x 30".
Beth Cavener sculptures focus on human psychology, stripped of context and rationalization, and articulated through animal and human forms. On the surface, these figures are suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface they embody the impacts of aggression, territorial desires, isolation, and pack mentality. Both human and animal interactions show patterns of intricate, subliminal gestures that betray intent and motivation. Cavener believes that the things we leave unsaid are far more important than the words we speak out-loud to one another. She reads meaning in the subtler signs; a look, the way one holds one's hands, the tightening of muscles in the shoulders, the incline of the head, the rhythm of a walk, and the slightest unconscious gestures. Then she uses animal body language in her work as a metaphor for these underlying patterns, transforming the animal subjects into human psychological portraits.
Craig Clifford Appleton, WI, USA CraigCliffordArt.com b. 1969 Hemet, CA, USA 2003 MFA Ceramics, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA 2000 BFA Ceramics, California State University Long Beach, Long Beach CA, USA
Harvest, 2013. Earthenware, glaze, 10 x 20 x 7".
Craig Clifford investigates the juxtaposition between high and low culture in the vessel by combining kitsch objects with classic ceramic forms. Harvest appears to be a traditional tea set, yet on closer inspection becomes a riot of color, texture, and sentimentalized images. Clifford assembles slip cast and press-molded kitsch forms to create texture that at first glance seems to be a mere surface. Yet it draws the viewer in with these slices of recognizable imagery, forcing him or her to take time to visually deconstruct the work. Trite novelties from commercial molds contrast with the forms of the high culture serving pieces that are the format for many of his works. His aim is to transform these crass items through collage, surface manipulation, and form in such a way that we are invited to find our own surprises in the transformation of these objects.
Mark Cooper Sommerville, MA, USA MarkFCooper.com b.1950 Evansville, IN, USA 1980 MFA Tufts University, School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA 1972 BS, Accounting, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA
YuYu Kansas, 2013. Installation using ceramic, wood, fiberglass, silk screen on muslin, digital photography, rice paper prints, metal brackets, screws, 96 x 96 x 96”.
Integral to Mark Cooper’s installation is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The components work in conversation forming a visual and metaphoric language. The diverse materials and techniques – with imagery that is drawn, painted, glazed, and reproduced photographically on ceramics, wood, walls, and paper – reference cultural history, global influence, and individual artistic expression. International elements are united when classic porcelain forms Cooper made in Jingdezhen, China, are featured along with traditional Chinese and Japanese rice paper that is collaged onto multi-fired ceramics created in Cooper’s Boston studio. Add to the mix northern hemisphere pine and metal brackets from the 21st century that support the pieces created with more time-honored methods. Translucent rice paper cascading from the walls mirrors the weightier wooden forms. These sculptures reference various architectural and natural forms from around the globe and through history, including Chinese and Indian bamboo scaffolding, Chinese scholar rocks, rogue beehives, and Victorian curio cabinets. Although the work consists of many elements of differing scales, media, color, texture, visual weight, and historic and global references and origins, it is interesting to consider the way in which the varied components coexist in harmony and work as a unit to convey ideas about the shifting global economy, the development of far-reaching consumer markets, and the influence of these on the arts. "The juxtaposition of the elements in the assemblage is meant to involve viewers in an internal discourse about the relationships put forward in a way that differs from a linear narrative," Cooper explained.
Cristina C贸rdova Penland, NC, USA CristiniaCordova.com b.1976 Boston, MA, USA 2002 MFA, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA 1998 BA, Colegio De Agricultura Y Artes Mecanicas, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
C贸digo I, 2013. Ceramic, 10.5 x 6 x 6".
Through her work, C贸rdova seeks to generate figurative compositions that explore the boundary between the material driven, sensorial experience of an object and the psychological resonance of our involuntary dialogues with the self-referential. The intensity of the stares as well as the corporal language of these characters immediately submerge us in the depths of her inner worlds. The artist explores the psychology of these beings that look at us perplexed, like captured souls in a fragmented body and a decaying skin but palpitating with a contained eroticism. The tragic vision of life so rooted, since the Greeks, in the occidental collective subconscious, infuses C贸rdova's characters with a subtle pessimism and melancholic lyricism. Like actors in a theatre of the absurd that wait eternally for nothing, they suffer from an existential agony that questions the meaning of life and death. With poetry and technical command the sculptor incorporates in her work multiple cultural references such as Latin American religious imagery, primitive art, classical sculpture, expressionism and surrealism, all of it filtered and digested to accomplish a personal language. Her source of originality resides in the ability to look within herself without fear of finding devastating truths or uncertainties, without fear of exploring her internal abysses and peaks to offer us her discoveries transformed into clay.
Doda Design Aya Margulis and Rae'ut Stern Jerusalem, Israel DodaDesign.com
Web Souvenirs, 2010–2013
at right, top row from left to right: Laplau 3, 10.75", p0rn, 10.75", Motherboard,
Jerusalem, Israel b. 1980 Eilat, Israel
9", Anonymous M, 4.5". second row: Homage, 8.75", Anonymous R, 5.25", Notcot, 10", I C U, 13.5". third row: idfnadesk, 9.75", Download, 9.75", Pink Gaga
2008 Mdes, Industrial Design, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel
5", E Commerce, 9", A Window to Bliss, 8.5". fifth row: Swipe, 10.25", 37°
2006 BFA, Ceramics, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel
silk screen print, digital print.
Rae'ut E. Stern New York, NY, USA b. 1981 Haifa, Israel 2008 MDes, Industrial Design, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel 2005 BA, Psychology and Communication, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel
above: Web Souvenirs, 2010–2013, installation of 20 plates: 3'5 x 12'3. Photo courtesy of Red Star Studios.
2010, 11.25 x 9.5", Keyboard Cat, 7". fourth row: Anonymous A, 5", NeoNeo, 11'58.95"N, 106° 0'55.46"W, 9.75", Anonymous B, 6", Ynet, 8.75" The work in Web Souvenirs 2010–2013 was created using the following techniques on slip cast earthenware: hand altering and decoration, CNC waterjet cutting, under glaze, glaze, hand-painted gold Luster, gold and platinum
In Web Souvenirs, Aya Margulis and Rae’ut Stern liken the act of surfing the Internet to a form of travel to remote destinations. This cyber-tourism does not take place in a physical sense but rather involves an engaging sightseeing experience in a digital landscape. Often launched via favorite and beloved access points, travel through cyberspace offers endless pathways to explore an ever-changing world. The collection of handmade ceramic plates is inspired by the visual experiences of cyber-tourism and resonates with the well-established tradition of ceramic souvenir plates. Each plate explores a different aspect of the cyber world and raises questions about debated social phenomena. Powerful scenes of social unrest embedded in our minds through repeated exposure by the news and social media are featured on many of their pieces. Doda Design’s collaborative design and production process and use of the internet for research and source imagery bring a more contemplative and contemporary approach to what was once the cup and the plate.
Thomas Lowell Edwards Lincoln, NE, USA TJClay.com b. 1983 Brigham City, Utah, USA 2014 MFA (candidate), University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, USA 2008 BFA, Ceramics, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN, USA
Ridge, 2012. Concrete, porcelain, 26 x 13 x 3". Courtesy of the artist.
Utilitarian objects, specifically pottery, have been tied to communal activities for millennia. In American culture today, there is a common trend to deny the rituals of eating and drinking together for the sake of expediency or convenience. Ceramic vessels designed for daily use are vehicles for nourishment of the body; they can also facilitate fulfillment of our social needs. Edwardsâ€™ work focuses on our daily decisions to be alone and the resulting breaking down of relationships that occur when opportunities for interpersonal communication are reduced. Ridgeâ€™s concrete slab reveals the fossil-like structure of seven porcelain vessels nestled in one another. Where the porcelain intersects with the concrete face, the vessels have been ground flush with the concreteâ€™s surface. Concrete lends a metaphoric quality to the work, referencing the urban environment. It renders the vessels useless, representing the obsolescence of communal behavior through the daily choices we make. These choices include rejecting opportunities for community-building rituals like sitting down for a shared cup of coffee. By denying the utility of the pots that are encased and showing the cross section, Edwards memorializes the communal activities of eating and drinking. The purpose of arranging of the composition in a minimal and formal format is to make quiet and contemplative objects. Edwards uses a subtle and subdued palette to welcome the viewer, with the intention that the approachable and intriguing linear qualities generated by the manipulated pottery will inspire further thought and interaction with the piece.
Michelle Erickson Hampton, VA, USA MichelleEricksonCeramics.com b.1960 Hampton, VA, USA 1982 BFA, Fine and Performing Arts, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, USA
Green Squirrel and The Second Amendment Squirrel, 2013. Indigenous clay, copper glaze, 8". Photo: Robert Hunter.
These animal bottles are the subject of a "green army" series derived from Michelle Ericksonâ€™s work "Making a Moravian Squirrel Bottle" published in Ceramics In America 2009 and coauthored with editor Robert Hunter. This project in reverse archeology examines the figural bottles made by the North Carolina Moravian Potters in the 18th century. The characteristic green-glazed squirrels inspired her modern interpretation to address environmental issues of fossil fuel dependence and the cultural epidemic of gun violence in America. It carries an Animal Farm twist as twenty-first-century satire turns the tables between man and the natural world and brings the arcane originals, whose purpose had been lost to time, into a contemporary dialogue.
Sean Erwin Deland, FL, USA SeanErwin.com
Adoration of the Golden Calf, 2013. Porcelain, glaze, steel, resin, cast cement,
b.1981 Miami, FL, USA
Adoration of the Golden Calf is one of a series of pieces that explores the complex nature of the human condition by studying the social ecology of objects in relation to an individual’s personal psychology. In doing so, the work examines the material culture of our world and how objects can reflect and influence one’s personal identity. In this piece, the narrative focuses specifically on the idea of the “collectible” by examining the motives and intentions that drive the desire to collect. The question of “What is collectible?’ is challenged through visual references made to objects that allude to the idolatry of wealth. Ultimately, the piece is a critique on the sometimes-misguided values and ‘plastic’ reality associated with the false idols of a manipulative market, which is shaped by the subjective desires of commodity fetishism. The work uses this narrative as a device that is not only intended to engage the viewer (as possible collector), but also introspectively examines the role and values of the artist, as they are an integral part in the creation of “collectible” objects.
2008 MFA, Ceramics & Painting, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA 2004 BA, Painting, Stetson University, DeLand, FL, USA
glass dome, LED lights, flocking, gold luster, 9 x 10 x 22".
Sean Erwin was awarded a solo exhibition at Red Star Studios at Belger Crane Yard Studios in 2014 based the strength and quality of his work.
Léopold L. Foulem Montreal, Quebec, Canada DavidKayeGallery.com
Boy with Cape on Empire Style Stand, 2012. Ceramic and found object, decal,
b.1945 Bathurst, New Brunswick, CAN
Boy with Cape on Empire-Style Base is part of a group of figurines exhibited in a one-person show titled More Bibelots? The show posed questions relevant to many aspects of contemporary ceramics. Is a figurine always a figurine regardless of its content? Can narrative content shift the figurine into the realm of art? Léopold L. Foulem seeks answers to these questions by manipulating found and familiar objects and injecting them with critical subject matter and social commentary. Using an idealized figure adorned with decals on a pre-made base, Foulem openly addresses the subject of pedophilia, especially that among the clergy. Yet the conceptual basis for Foulem’s eccentric objects rarely focuses just on the merit of the story line. It goes beyond that and questions the role and importance of the narrative element.
1988 MFA Indiana State University Terre Haute, IN, USA
gold luster,16.4 x 5.1 x 4.5". Photo: Richard Milette.
Future Retrieval Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis Cincinnati, OH, USA FutureRetrieval.com
Katie Parker b.1980 Jonesboro, AR, USA 2005 MFA The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA 2003 BFA Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA
Guy Michael Davis b.1978 Bartlesville, OK, USA 2008 MFA The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA 2003 BFA Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA
Grand Theft Lion, 2013. Slip cast porcelain, china paint; sculpture scanned from the Metropolitan Museum of Art using photogrammetry software and rapid prototyping, 11 x 8 x 7".
Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis employ three-dimensional scanning processes to capture historic busts and sculptures around the country for re-translation. Using photogrammetry, the art and science of making and recording measurements from photographs, they are able to fully document and bring iconic sculptures into a digital environment. The artists then have the ability to print, scale, and model their own versions in porcelain. Similar to how museums allow artists to sketch and paint on site, they are creating their own copies of the original, while letting the photographic process inform the work. These pieces in Ceramic Top 40 were scanned from Johann Kirchnerâ€™s Lion, manufactured by Meissen in 1732, on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Alessandro Gallo Helena, MT, USA AlessandroGallo.net b.1974 Genova, Italy 2002 BA, Fine Arts, Chelsea College of Art, London, UK
Scripta Elegans, 2011. Ceramic, acrylics, mixed media, 15.7 x 13.8 x 13".
Allesandro Gallo produces anamorphic sculptures that explore humorously personal human traits. His hyper-realistic figures inhabit metropolitan settings and combine classical figural sculpture with contemporary urban imagery drawn from pop culture. In Latin, scripta elegans means elegantly written (or painted) and refers to the defining head markings of the red eared slider, a semi aquatic turtle. Gallo explained that he pictured the scripta elegans as a woman writing elegantly by tapping her fingers on a tablet (a small mirror in the piece), wearing a trendy down jacket that echoes a shell, and walking her pet, a king baboon tarantula. And here she is giving us a new view of ourselves.
Misty Gamble Kansas City, MO, USA mistygamble.com b.1967 Redondo Beach, CA, USA 2007 MFA, Ceramics, San Francisco State University, CA, USA 2004 BA, Studio Art, California State University, East Bay, CA, USA
Indulgence and Succulence, 2013. Ceramic, glaze, steel, cardboard, plastic, 72 x 60 x 60”. Photo: E.G. Schempf.
Issues surrounding femininity and set standards of normalcy, propriety, and societal expectation inform this work. Gamble confronts and challenges conventional standards of femininity in terms of beauty and power. Sculpted figural fragments provide a perfect vehicle for communicating ideas about beauty, excess, opulence and the abject and their impact on womanhood. The work is also influenced by her interest in fashion, textile pattern, and hair. Indulgence and Succulence comes from the body of work, “Abject Reverie” that is comprised of multiples, ceramics, mixed media, figuration, and installation. Ageless women and accessories, inspired by the Rococo are depicted through hair, torsos, and busts. Roses, filigree, and cupcakes are surrogates for hair, while cupcake multiples are examples of and surrogates for decoration and excess. These contemporary fetish objects complete the figurative form and at the same time reference an absence of body. Legless, armless torsos and busts in the form of mannequin bodies or dress forms hold up heads with enormous coiffures. Their gaze is unapologetic, even through hair that hides the ability to see. Referencing the Santos doll and the Barbie doll, these limbless forms have detachable heads. These works represent a stoic self-defining stance. The abject, defined as that which is rejected by or disturbs social reason and inherently disturbs conventional identity is reexamined in the work. Here, the abject describes the role of women as decoration.
Gerit Grimm Madison, WI, USA GeritGrimm.com b.1973 Halle an der Saale, Germany 2004 MFA, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA 2002 MA, University of Michigan School of Art & Design, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Tango, 2012. Wheel-thrown stoneware, 26 x 17 x 9".
Gerit Grimm was born and raised in what was then the German Democratic Republic where she had the privilege of being classically trained as a production potter and worked as a journeyman for notable German craftsmen before arriving in the United States. Utilizing traditional ceramic craft processes, she developed an innovative and distinct approach to making sculpture with wheel-thrown parts, and in her work she renders the formless material of clay into figures that resonate with wonder and makes the familiar increasingly strange. Devoid of color, the large-scale works she produces move away from the seemingly whimsical nature of the traditional figurine both in terms of physical size and technical virtuosity. Tango is drawn from Grimmâ€™s personal experience in learning to tango. The piece reveals frustration and awkwardness in the dancers but also sensitivity and fascination with the dance. Thousands of hours are required to truly learn the tango and these dancers are frozen in their progress for our viewing and consideration. Here, the roles are switched; the women are leading the men. The dancers carry forward a challenge of our conceptions of expertise and gender roles. Over the past decade her work has been part of a larger discussion of the re-emergence of figuration in ceramics and of an embrace of the decorative arts in general. She finds great power in working from this historical base, and the opportunity it presents for questioning the boundaries between kitsch and high art.
Rain Harris Kansas City, MO, USA RainHarris.com b.1969 Oakland, CA, USA 2008 MFA, Fine Arts, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA 1997 BFA, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, USA
Florem Brunneis, 2013. Vintage walnut, black clay, resin, silk flowers, 16 x 16 x 8".
During the summer of 2012 Rain Harris was an artist in residence at the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China where she worked directly with the local flower makers and learned the art of creating porcelain flowers. While this experience became the catalyst for her work, her ideas became reinterpreted through her western perspective and longstanding interest in the decorative arts. Her hand-built flowers allude to nature and growth patterns but they do not strive for specificity, rather they are stylized landscapes and still lifes that question artificiality and preciousness. She references acts of nature through the use of industrial materials. Silk flowers covered in resin become foliage caught in an ice storm, simultaneously juxtaposing the organic with the synthetic. Her representation of untamed nature is pure artifice and questions the notions of permanence and sprawl. Her works are made from black clay, bringing up associations of Victorian sentiments revolving around morbidity and excess. There is also a wink and a nod to collections such as Wunderkammers or Cabinets of Curiosities as well as the Blaschka Flowers. This confluence of tangible ideas, materials, and cultural perceptions creates visual hybridity, which allows the viewer to bring in their own associations and interpretations into the works meaning.
Giselle Hicks Helena, MT, USA GiselleHicks.com b.1979 Boston, MA, USA 2010 MFA, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA 2001 BFA, Ceramics, Syracuse University, College of Visual and Performing Arts, Syracuse, NY, USA
And Then It was Still II, 2012. Vitreous china, wood, 48 x 60 x 24". Photo: John Polak
And Then It was Still presents the table as a three-dimensional still life. The table blooms with flowers, the abundant, fragile beauty made still and permanent referencing both art and literature. In seventeenthcentury European still life paintings, the fragile beauty of flowers is made permanently still in the exquisitely painted object, and thus shared across time as a concept of beauty. Giselle Hicks is interested in capturing that sense of beauty and transience in three-dimensional form in order to make solid, still, and permanent something that is fleeting and invisible, such as the character or sense of a person, an exchange between a loved one, or an exuberant meal shared with family and friends. Hicks finds beauty in these daily illuminations, often taking place within the domestic realm, wanting to hold them still and give them form. Though these moments are intangible, they mark us and become a part of who we are. In addition to the visual, Hicks draws inspiration from themes that resonate in the book To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf where the main characters struggle to hold on to and make still the complex beauty they recognize in the small, fleeting everyday moments.
Peter Christian Johnson La Grande, OR, USA PeterChristianJohnson.com b.1976 Newport, CA, USA 2003 MFA, Penn State University, State College, PA, USA 1998 BS, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL, USA
Ovoid #3, 2013. Ceramic, steel, 21.5 x 62 x 7".
Peter Christian Johnsonâ€™s new body of work is a formal exploration of structure and material. The grid systems become a framework on which to stretch a fluid skin. They expose the relationship between soft and hard, the fluidity of a membrane, and the moment of intersection between these contrasting elements. They strive to pair labored construction with a more unpredictable surface and reveal both the rigid and malleable aspects of ceramic material. Johnson explains, "My work is meant to be dislocated in time, seemingly a remnant of the past or an artifact from the distant future. It becomes a reflection on the passing of time, drawing our attention to our own finiteness in light of all our human pursuits toward advancement. It catalogues the act of making, of constructing, of inventing, and reinventing. It speaks to the never ending flow of both time and human attempts at progress."
Brian R. Jones Portland, OR, USA BrianRJones.com b. 1979 Syracuse, NY, USA 2007 MFA, Ceramics and Drawing, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX, USA 2002 Post Baccalaureate, Ceramics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA 2001 BFA, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA
Alembic (Letter B), 2012. Earthenware, slips, glaze, plywood, milk paint, 18 x 18 x 3" shown open above and closed at right. Photo above: Stephen Funk. Photo at right courtesy of Red Star Studios.
Brian Jones’ current work springs from his investigation into the transformative character and power of memories. A remembrance of a jar, cup, or plate serves as the point of departure for the contemplation of form, color, and tone. The nature of how a pot reveals itself over time to an audience is the long echo of that initial reverie. The pot is both a reservoir and an initiator of memories. "The convention that a pot is 'complete' after it has been fired is something that I am working to subvert by the addition of other materials following the glaze firing," Jones says. Ways of questioning a pot’s function, both as an object and a narrative element, naturally arise as different materials are added to create new layers. This juxtaposition complicates the reading of the work, slowing the comprehension and experience of what may appear to be a simple object. The pot’s domestic surroundings, the casual way in which it is constructed, and its surface against that of another material give the work a constructed and contemplative significance that will divulge its identity over time.
Ryan LaBar Enterprise, OR, USA RyanLaBar.com b.1975 Great Falls, MT, USA 2010 MFA, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA 2005 Post Baccalaureate Studies, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA 1998 B.S. Biology, Art and Chemistry minors, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, USA
The Subconscious Shelf, 2011. Porcelain and stoneware, 25 x 28 x 22".
As with much of his work, Ryan LaBarâ€™s The Subconscious Shelf exhibits a captured vision imbued with energy, memory, nostalgia, and life. "It is an array of disparate and displaced pieces brought together â€” a cascading failure, ossified into a captured moment in time. It is a sum of all the parts, a continuum of colorful gears, cages, game pieces, belts, and rods," one observer said. "It is a curious tangled cornucopia in its ever generative scope, its strength and beauty lies in a subconscious reach toward a sweeping narrative of the soul."
Steven Young Lee Helena, MT, USA StevenYoungLee.com
Red, Blue and White, 2013. Porcelain, copper inlay, cobalt inlay, white slip, glaze, glass shelving, aluminum, 46 x 50 x 4" each. Photo at right by Alan Wiener courtesy of Greenwich House Pottery.
b.1975 Chicago, IL, USA
This piece comprises three panels, each containing 100 hand-thrown porcelain cups in a ten-by-ten grid. It was originally created for installation at the Jane Hartsook Gallery in New York, NY. The cups are decorated with motifs appropriated from various cultures — Chinese, Korean, French, Dutch, English, etc. In the creation of all 300 cups, the patterns evolved from their original source throughout the process, paralleling the organic development of the visual language of pattern as it evolved with ethnic influence. The title of the piece references three genres of decoration in ceramics — blue and white, red and white, and white on white — while also isolating the representation of color i.e.: red, white, and blue, to associate with contemporary connotations. In addition, the proportion of the panels correlates to a large color field painting that allows the various motifs to create a single homogenous color representation. Lee chose to use cups as a vehicle for the decoration because of their status as an archetypal form. And as one of the more intimate ceramic forms, they are relegated to be a small but integral part of the structure of the installation. To reinforce the place of the cup in the whole, the cups are not sold individually, their meaning plays a more expanded role as part of a larger whole.
2004 MFA, Ceramic Art and Design, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA 1998 BFA Ceramic Art, Art Education, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA
Linda Lighton Kansas City, MO, USA LindaLighton.com b.1948 Kansas City, MO, USA 1989 BFA, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA
Cause and Effect, 2012. Whiteware, glaze, 23 x 25 x 22.5". Photo: E.G.Schempf.
In Cause and Effect, Linda Lighton rails against the political and financial power of gun advocacy and the petroleum industry. Do we feel safe when protected by guns or do they just lead to more violence? Do we fight wars in the Middle East to fuel economic profits? Lighton uses the sculptural format to present her ideas and express her outrage by embodying symbolic images of these two powerful forces into her work. Embodying the basics of social realism, Lighton brings important issues forward to challenge our complacency towards these social structures and asks us to fight against them with hearts and brains instead of lethal weaponry.
Daniel Listwan Margate, FL, USA DanListwan.com b.1985 Milwaukee, WI, USA 2013 MFA, Ceramics, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA 2009 BFA, Studio Art and Art History, Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, WI, USA
Biohazard Jasperware: Wedgwood Blue Series, 2013. Colored porcleain, tallest is 10".
Daniel Listwan’s Biohazard Jasperware: Wedgwood Blue Series is part of an ongoing body of work that seeks to address notions of biological and scientific dangers through appropriating the decorative tradition of Josiah Wedgwood’s Jasperware. Teacups, vases, and other familiar functional forms that Wedgwood employed are replaced with iconic scientific vessels used in microbiology for researching bacterium and pathogens. Likewise, the benign neoclassical reliefs adorning Wedgwood Jasperware have been replaced with images of mutation and death perpetuating forms of life such as anthrax, bubonic plague, Ebola, H5N1, and other serious biohazards. While Listwan’s contemporary Jasperware shares an ostensibly similar appearance to that of Wedgwood, the content it addresses is of a darker nature.
Robert Lugo Bellefonte, PA, USA RobertoLugoStudio.com b.1981 Pennsylvania, USA 2014 MFA (candidate), Ceramics, Penn State University, State College, PA, USA 2012 BFA, Ceramics, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA
Pride and Prejudice, 2013. Porcelain, slip, china paint, luster, 18 x 10 x 9"; 18 x 18 x 10".
Roberto Lugo’s Pride and Prejudice confronts two destructive aspects of American society. Pride is a bust sculpture adorned with patterns worn by the street gangs the Bloods and the Crips and reveals a paradox — two gangs fighting against each other instead of seeing their similarities. Red and blue are also the colors of the Puerto Rican flag. Lugo sees this culture as profoundly prideful of its heritage although marred by poverty and a history of slavery. Lugo uses a crown to represent Christianity and its propensity towards hypocrisy as it faces many of the same battles as the gangs. The Prejudice bust represents a long cultural history of racial hate (he notes the KKK, Nazis, and the Westborough Baptist Church) that is still alive today. Lugo grew up in Philadelphia, where he was confronted with racism every day: assaulted by a hate group, bombarded with racial slurs, violated when his home was vandalized. Experiencing the existence of this deep hatred and its basis in blindness, ignorance, and refusal to rationally question, spurs Lugo to create work that asks us to look again at the ways we continue this horrible legacy. Although Lugo doesn’t believe that everyone who wears camouflage or hunts is a racist, he uses it to demonstrate the irony of how camouflage exposes our culture’s open acceptance of white supremacy. The two sculptures have Lugo’s face on them, showing the similarities of these facets of American culture. He believes that when we see how we are similar to each other we are less likely to oppress one another and we can begin to value our diversity.
Lauren Mabry Philadelphia, PA, USA LaurenMabry.com b.1985 Cincinnati, OH, USA 2012 MFA, Ceramics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA 2007 BFA, Ceramics, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA
above: Cylinder, 2014. Red earthenware, slips, glaze, 6 x 12 x 12". at right: Composition of Enclosed Cylinders, 2013. Red earthenware, slips, glaze, 20 x 7 x 6".
Lauren Mabry's sculptures and dimensional paintings are made of glazed ceramic; they are abstract, emotional objects wrought with bold, colorful marks. She is an intuitive risk taker with a keen attraction to movement and material. She exploits the intrinsically perplexing nature of glaze; it is lively and seductive. The clay forms she produces are elemental â€” cylinders and basic curves â€” allowing the highly pigmented glazes to clash and resound with a kind of musical timbre, flowing with movement, creating rich, hypnotic tones and textures. "Compelled by color and surface, I grapple with abstraction. I work from within, painting with glaze: an inherently complex, transformative material. I'm discovering the degree to which expression involves thought versus action. Before the firing, glazes are thick, chalky, unrecognizable colors as I layer them over the form. Despite their appearances, I apply them almost automatically, envisioning the reactions that will happen in the kiln as they transform into the bright, liquid-like end result. My command of the material allows me to envision the finished surface as I apply the glazes," Mabry explained.
Walter McConnell Belmont, NY, USA CrossMackenzie.com/ McConnell.php b.1956 Philadelphia, PA, USA 1986 MFA, Ceramic Art, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA 1978 BFA, Ceramics and Painting, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, USA
A Theory of Everything: White Corner, 2013. Cast porcelain from commercial molds, zinc crystalline glaze, plywood table, 77 x 39 x 39".
The profusion of porcelain objects that comprise A Theory of Everything are cast in molds recycled from the ceramic hobby industry. The accumulated figurines and bric-a-brac, glazed in blooms of crystalline zinc, are meticulously stacked, arranged, and rearranged to form an elaborate tabletop cascade. When viewed, objects flicker in and out of attention in a play of reflected light and color. The themes on display are familiar, persistent conceits of a popular paint-your-own ceramic subculture — an entertaining array of cowboys and shepherdesses, beneficent virgins and garden gnomes, botanical fantasies, and adorable animalia once destined for the curio cabinets of middle America. McConnell’s intent in reworking these well-worn tropes, arises out of a curiosity for objects that circulate as part of a larger cultural system of value and status. The ceramic archive recycled and compounded to excess in McConnell’s resplendent porcelain towers, is evidence of a collective unconscious — vastly weird and wonderful — at the core of our acquisitional urges and desires.
Sara Moorhouse Cardiff, South Giamorgan, UK SaraMoorhouse.com b.1974 Sheffield, Yorkshire, UK 2010 PhD, Ceramics, UWIC School of Art and Design, Cardiff, Wales, UK 2004 MA, UWIC School of Art and Design, Cardiff, Wales, UK 1996 BA, Illustration and 3D design, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, UK
The Same Red, 2013. White earthenware, underglaze, glaze, 4 x 6.8". In Sara Moorhouseâ€™s work, the ceramic vessel has become a canvas on which to experiment with optical color and perceptions of movement. Contrasting tones and varied band widths encourage her forms to vibrate, pulse, and breathe. Equidistant lines on one surface contradict expanding lines on other surfaces making the shape of the form, from inside to outside, appear uncertain as straight walls appear to curve one way and then another. The forms then stir and appear in a temporarily alive state. In The Same Red, the lines on the left artwork appear royal blue and bright pink, whilst on the right they appear blue grey and orange red. The blues are different but the bright pink and the orange red are exactly the same red. This can be explained in relation to simultaneous contrast. Moorhouse explains, "Simultaneous contrast occurs for the physiological reason that our eyes are always seeking the complimentary colour to the colour we are looking at. Consequently our eye projects the opposite colour next to or around a coloured area, thus affecting the appearance of the surrounding colour. As the two blues are different in the two bowls our eye projects a different colour around each blue making the red appear different in each case."
Ron Nagle San Francisco, CA, USA RonNagle.net b.1939 San Francisco, CA, USA 1961 BA, San Francisco State College, San Francisco, CA, USA
Snuff Bottle, 2013. Porcelain, glaze, 6 x 2.5 x 2.5". Shown courtesy of Jeffrey Spahn Gallery. Photo courtesy of Red Star Studios.
Kate Roberts Alfred, NY, USA KateRobertsCeramics.com
The Space Between You and Me, 2011. Colored porcelain, mirror, tulle,
b.1988 Wilkesboro, NC, USA
Kate Roberts is one of the youngest artists in this exhibition and brings with her a willingness to take risks. She pushes the boundaries of fragility in producing large-scale installations comprised of delicate forms and uses them to reveal psychological and emotional narratives. The expanded scale and fragile components that convey her sensitive stories are an innovative and technically challenging use of the medium of clay. The Space Between You and Me questions the physical and mental properties of a relationship. Produced during a residency at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, Colorado, it focuses specifically on a relationship based on love. Through the use of bird imagery and changing of seasons, the piece conveys the emotions felt and the body language revealed during this relationship in order to show its temperance.
2015 MFA (candidate), New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA 2010 BFA, Ceramics, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA
96 x 60 x 6". Photo courtesy of Red Star Studios.
Stephanie A. Rozene Oneonta, NY, USA StephanieRozene.com
The Politics of Porcelain, 2011. Porcelain, glaze, panel 4' x 13', 8 dinner plates
b.1980 Portland, ME, USA
The Politics of Porcelain continues Rozeneâ€™s investigation into tableware, in particular the way European tableware was used as currency during the second half of the 18th and 19th centuries by European kings and queens wishing to demonstrate their wealth and power to other developed nations. Through the use of pattern, gold luster, and imagery, an ornamental language emerges which is not bound by time and place but reflects the interaction and transformation of cultures through migration, trade, conquest, and the spread of religions. This is evidenced by several of the most extravagant sets of tableware created for Louis the XV and XVI and their various homes at Versailles, Louvre, and personal apartments in Paris. Additionally they had services of over 2,000 pieces delivered to the Empress of Austria, King Frederick V of Denmark, and Catherine the Great of Russia as ways to disseminate objects of wealth and power across Europe and the East. The physical installation of this work used porcelain tableware, and forms that are reminiscent of rococo plaster work to create place settings, which hang on the wall, in turn, creating three tablescapes on the wall. This act of hanging the china elevates its importance and status to that of a painting. The work seeks to begin a conversation about the importance and power of china.
2004 MFA, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada 2002 BFA, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA
10" d x 1", 8 side plates 6.5" d x 1".
Anders Ruhwald Bloomfield Hills, MI, USA Ruhwald.net b.1974 Randers, Denmark 2005 Royal College of Art, London, UK 2000 The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Design Bornholm, DNK
Lamp, 2005-2010. Eartheware, socket, plug, shade and bulb, 50 x 14 x 14".
Noted for large-scale installations that explore ceramic as both idea and material, Ruhwald brushes aside the distinction between art and craft, emphasizing instead the disruptive and transformative capacity of objects in space. As the Director of New York's Museum of Arts and Design Glenn Adamson has stated, "For all their compressed particularity, [his] sculptures are also enlivened by inexhaustible nuance. Ruhwald takes seriously the idea that surface is where form interfaces with spatial context, so his surfaces have an intensity in all registers." Ruhwald currently runs one of America's top graduate ceramics programs at Cranbrook Academy of Art. The piece Lamp is essentially nothing else than a lamp. It picks up its particularities by the contexts in which it is shown. Like most useful things it is at one and the same time very straight forward and endlessly ambiguous.
Michael Schwegmann Champaign, IL, USA SchwegmannStudios.com b.1975 St. Louis, MO, USA 1999 BFA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Fine + Applied Arts, Champaign, IL, USA
Ball and Chain, 2013. Porcelain, glaze, 9 x 9 x 38".
Michael Schwegmann’s work is a seamless merging of concept, form, surface, and material. His ceramic representations of common objects are layered with careful surface design and meaning. The ceramic materials support or challenge the concept. Most works reference objects relating to labor and hands-on activities. Rather than making purely trompe l’oeil sculptures, these are made to look like memories of objects as though seen through a filter. He alters and combines cultural icons to engage the viewer’s intellect and emotion in unexpected ways. While the ball and chain are not often in use today, they remain a symbol of oppression. They have also come to signify the burden and responsibility of relationships. The surface of this sculpture, glazed as a United States flag, suggests a myriad of ideas about oppression, freedom, and the onus associated with relationships to the USA. The choice of ceramic material also plays a significant role in the statement of this piece. The function of a metal ball and chain relies on its durability and weight. The function of this porcelain sculpture differs entirely from its iron counterpart. The porcelain is fragile and easily broken, so a person remains attached to the weight of the piece only by choice.
Paul Scott Biencogo, Cumbria, UK CumbrianBlues.com
Scott's Cumbrian Blue(s) (Crooklands) Cow in a Meadow, 2007/2013. Cow: Earthenware, tin glaze; Platter: bone china, inglaze decals and gold lustre,15.75". Photo: John Polak.
b.1953 Darley, Derbyshire, UK 2010 PhD, Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK 1977 BEd, Art and Design, S. Martins College, Lancaster, UK
Paul Scottâ€™s work involves the digital manipulation of established vocabularies of printed motif, pattern, and image from industrial ceramic archives and engraved book illustration. Cloning and collaging these, sometimes with photographic elements, he creates contemporary artworks in ceramic and printed form. The altered ready-mades, hand-built sculptural vignettes, and architectural interventions are all characterized by a blue and white semiotic. Together with a focus on pastoral landscapes and chinoiserie, Scottâ€™s work draws on the cultural wallpaper in our minds, playing with our sense of the familiar. Yet by extracting, re-drawing, and collaging aspects of traditional with contemporary elements, he creates individual pieces that are exacting and critical. Scott blurs boundaries between fine art and design, a strategy that enables him to bring home contemporary concerns with rural agriculture, the legacy of the slave trade, the environment and global politics.
Richard Shaw Fairfax, CA, USA GalleryPauleAnglim.com/Richard_Shaw.html b.1941 Hollywood, CA, USA 1968 MFA, University of California Davis, Davis, CA, USA 1965 BFA, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA, USA
Still Life with Open Drawer, 2013. Porcelain, glaze, decals, 33 x 13.5 x 14”. Photo: Alice Shaw.
Richard Shaw has been creating trompe l'oeil still lifes since the 1970s. In this newest body of work, Shaw presents groups of sculpted objects on tables or stools that are also in cast porcelain. As he originally was educated as a painter, his fascination with artists’ materials and their possibilities appear often in his work. He romanticizes art and also pokes fun at its importance. This still life is presented on an artist’s taboret (a painters table). As Shaw often uses functionality as a form in his work, the book on the table is also a jar with the palette and ink sitting on the lid. This still life is about an absent artist and the tools he uses to make his work. Shaw is a known leader and educator in the field of contemporary ceramics. He and his work continue to inspire students and artists with a unique vitality and creativity as he continues to develop new ideas and expand his vocabulary and the context for the presentation of his ideas.
Adam Shiverdecker New York, NY, USA AdamShiverdecker.com b.1980 Arcanum, OH, USA 2009 MFA, Studio Art, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA 2005 BA, Visual Arts Education, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, USA
Banquet Series: Red Krater 1, 2013. Stoneware, nichrome, steel,14 x 12 x 14".
Adam Shiverdeckerâ€™s recent work references the historical ceramic forms of ancient Greek vessels. His Red Kraters are based on a classic form that was used for mixing wine during banquets and celebrations in ancient times. Shiverdecker creates pieces from wire and coats those forms with clay. As the clay dries it fractures over the wire forms. These fragmented pieces are used in his work to allude to the forces of decay in the disintegration of a culture. These krater forms were created using traditional methods on a pottery wheel and then dissected. Each missing portion was replaced with a fractured one. By rendering the vessel useless and unable to perform its role as a functional receptacle, Shiverdecker both celebrates and mourns the loss of a past civilization.
Bobby Silverman Brooklyn, NY, USA AlsioDesign.com b.1956 Port Jefferson, NY, USA 1983 MFA, Ceramics, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA 1981 BFA, Ceramics, Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA 1978 BA, Social Geography, Clark University, Worcester, MA, USA
4 Versions of Red (1), 2012. Re-fired commercial porcelain tiles, 12 x 12" each. Decision Before Action, 2011. Commercial tile reglazed, 36 x 28 x 0.5" (above).
Bobby Silverman balances material, process, and idea in a strong, unified whole. In his materials, he brings together pieces with international origins: large-format tiles that originate in China and glazes from England and the Netherlands. Silvermanâ€™s technically demanding process combines complex glazing and multi-firing methods that unite the materials in a way that supports and conveys his underlying concepts. These ideas are presented through words, letter forms, coded symbols, color, and texture. Silverman quotes Maurice Merleau-Ponty to help explain his work, "We know not through our intellect but through our experience." Unlike other philosophers, Merleau-Ponty emphasized the body as well and the mind as a gateway to understanding the world. His belief, that the body and that which it perceived could not be separated, is a concept Silverman finds perfectly suited to the perceptual and haptic sensibilities of fired clay. He explains, "I was initially trained as a social geographer and later as an artist. Acknowledging this early training and reflecting the mind-body understanding, my current work connects the way in which we both visualize information and viscerally experience this process of perception."
Linda Sormin Toronto, ON, Canada LindaSormin.com b.1971 Bangkok, Thailand 2001 Diploma, Ceramics, Sheridan College, Oakville, ON, CAN 2003 MFA, Ceramics, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA 1993 BA, English Literature, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI, USA
List, 2013. Glazed earthenware with found figurines and shards by: Annemarie Row, Rose B. Simpson, Amber Zuber, 17 x 23 x 14".
Linda Sormin, a leading installation artist, is known for pushing the extremes of material and concept. The large size and delicacy of her work challenge the clay’s intrinsic strength. She combines found and built objects with internal imagery in multiple complex forms. Scale, color, and variety of references expand in her work to create a layered unity made of disparate fragments. List was created for the Ceramic Top 40 show on a smaller scale than Sormin usually works. She comments, “Small sculpture is trickier, more condensed. It draws you into one set of ideas and demands your intimate focus. A big installation elbows everything else out of the way. It calls me to enter unfamiliar territory, at my own risk.”
Shawn Spangler Honolulu, HI, USA ShawnSpangler.com b.1977 Harrisburg, PA, USA 2006 MFA, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA 2001 BA, Penn State University, State College, PA, USA
Ewer and Salt Cellar with Digital Print, 2013. Ewer and Salt Cellar by Shawn Spangler. Porcelain, glaze. Digital Print by Bryan Czibesz. Archival print of digital 3D model, acrylic.
Shawn Spangler’s work reflects his fascination with technology and its constantly changing state of renewal and transition. Technology continues to transform and influence the timeless tradition of the production of ceramic work. Ceramics respond and reflect the social, economic and technical demands of society from 20,000 years ago to today. This, in turn, influences technology. Spangler and Bryan Czibesz’s use of digital technology to design their work brings together the ancient and the current. The computer informs their use of ceramics, and the ceramics inform their use of the computer. Their research has been focused upon the re-contextualization of historical objects, and the ways technology or modes of production have shaped the making process. Art and technology are necessarily tied and continue to shape and inspire one another. Existing and developing technologies will always be catalysts that influence how the arts are taught, created, viewed, and marketed — in some instances transformed — in relation to the transition to a digital society. This digital society is not static; it continues to advance and develop rapidly. Artistic methods and disciplines develop different dimensions and relationships with technology. This century has brought a plethora of new advancements creating many opportunities that are transforming ideas about what is possible with clay. Will the human footprint be lost to the advancing technology of our world? Spangler and Czibesz maintain that some will continue using more traditional methods. They believe the future lies in hybridization: as technology grows, humanity evolves, ceramics will continue to be articulated though fresh approaches, knowledgeable hands, and inquisitive individuals.
Object: Spoon 2013 Vipoo Srivilasa vipoo.com/spoon
above: Underwear Spoon, Liz Burritt, 2013, Aaron Nelson's clay, 0.5 x 14 x 4" Spoon, Jenn Demke-Lange, 2013. Earthenware, 1.5 x 13 x 6"
Generated by his basic human need for friendship in a new community, Srivilasa has inspired an international engagement between established and international ceramicists from 16 countries in this collaboration OBJECT: SPOON.
Spoon of Contentment, Vipoo Srivilasa, 2013. Porcelain, 3 x 16 x 7" at right, starting top left, going around clockwise, and then the spoon with gold: Neptune's Tea Spoon, James Seet, 2013. Porcelain, 3.5 x 13 x 4 (largest one) Waiting, Laura McKibbon, 2013, Porcelain, 0.3 x 16 x 2" Spoon, Teo Huey Min, 2013. Porcelain, 2 x 13 x 4" Sculpture Spoon, Jun Myoung, 2013. Terracotta and porcelain Two Spoons, Naomi Clement, 2013. Stoneware, 3 x 13 x 5" A Pair of Spoon, Noriko Masuda, 2013. Porcelain, .5 x 5 x 2" Mirror Spoon, Jason Desnoyers, 2013. Porcelain, 3 x 18 x 5" Untitled, Talva Jacobson Cheery, Krisaya Luenganantakul, 2013. Porcelain, 2 x 14 x 11" Poplar Spoon, Jenna Stanton, 2013. Bone china, 1 x 15 x 3" XF-247, Thomas Cheong, 2013. Porcelain, 2 x 15 x 6" (largest one) Ring Spoon, Joshua Primmer, 2013, Stoneware, 11 x 23 x 7" Sperm Spoon, Aaron Nelson, 2013. Aaron Nelsonâ€™s Clay, 2 x 13 x 4" Photos: Thomas Cheong.
During a 2013 artist residency at Medalta in Medicine Hat, Canada, Vipoo Srivilasa sought a way to bring fellow artists together. Srivilasa generated a simple and effective mechanism that also celebrated their shared passion for their profession. He invited each resident to make a modest, universal object: a spoon. The resulting series of spoons was shown as a single entry under Srivilasaâ€™s name in Ceramic Top 40. Inspired by the response and strong sense of collaboration and connections that came from the project, Srivilasa quickly realized the potential of the idea. Upon his return to Australia, he put out an open invitation through his extensive social media networks, asking makers to create spoons and to submit digital images. From these submissions, 25 spoons were selected by Srivilasa, with advice from Vicki Grima, editor of The Journal of Australian Ceramics and Leslie Ferrin, curator of Ceramic Top 40. Those were displayed at the Harvard exhibition.
Dirk Staschke Vancouver, BC, Canada ArtDirk.com b.1971 Huntsville, AL, USA 1998 MFA, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY, USA 1995 BFA, University of Montevallo, Montevallo, AL, USA
My Beautiful Nothing, 2010. Stoneware, engobes, glaze, 96 X 21.7 X 126".
My Beautiful Nothing was made for Clay Throw Down presented by the Bellevue Arts Museum Biennial in Seattle, Washington. This important survey show provided an opportunity for Staschke and other artists to conceive and present their work as installation as opposed to single, isolated objects. Grotesquely beautiful, Staschkeâ€™s work subverts the decorative history of the ceramic object by rendering macabre subjects in the agreeable mediums of clay and glaze. His subject matter is derived from the symbolism in 16th century Northern European vanitas paintings that question the futility of earthly pursuits and acquisitions. In his work, the attraction to food invokes material consumption and impermanence. In this fantastical arrangement of many distinct objects in a large, single work, a bounty of fruits and vegetables, ready to be ingested, spews forth from winged cornucopias and lands on a table set with dinnerware. On further investigation one realizes that the feast has already begun to spoil and decay. What is revealed is a simultaneous attraction and repulsion that questions our notions of the fleeting nature of beauty and the desire to consume.
Emily Sudd Glendale, CA, USA EmilySudd.com
Untitled, 2012. Collected ceramic objects, stoneware, 9.5 x 7.5 x 4.5".
b.1977 Santa Monica, CA, USA
Emily Sudd’s sculptures combine and categorize discarded ceramic objects in structures that engage in conversation with still life, narrative, abstract painting, and post-minimalist sculpture. They call into question the hierarchies of materials and taste with the role of the kitsch object in art and culture. Using traditional ceramic firing processes, her current sculptural work transforms collectible kitsch ceramic objects and functional ware into fine art sculptures. By traversing the boundaries between art objects and non-art objects, she looks to analyze the spaces occupied by art and craft and the visual cues associated with these categories. After collecting and arranging the various collected items, she subjects all of the objects to the same firing conditions, causing unpredictable and surprising results. The process produces the literal and metaphorical melting down of the materiality of domestic and artistic space. In the firing, some objects retain their form, while others melt down into fluid clay and glaze. Materials mix together creating swirls of color and pattern and globs of texture and form. Lowbrow kitsch objects merge into painting and sculpture in compositions that seem to suggest both the opposition and equalization of decoration, materials, and form.
2014 MFA Studio Art, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA 2011 MA, Studio Art, California State University, Northridge, CA, USA 2001 BA, Studio Art, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA
Photo: Lisa Talbot.
Tip Toland Vaughn, WA, USA Tip.com
Long Ago and Far Away, 2008. Stoneware, paint, pastel, synthetic hair, fiddle,
b.1950 Pottstown, PA, USA
The inspiration for this piece was the character Lenny from John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. As with many of her other figurative sculptures, Toland felt an autobiographical connection with the character. Lenny is big and mentally slow, fiercely loyal, and childlike. He is a boy in a man’s body. He loves to dream. Knowing he doesn’t fit in, he feels awkward and self-conscious, and wishes to be unnoticed, and he finds that fiddling allows him to disappear. Long Ago and Far Away refers to his state of mind, carried away by the music he plays on his child-size fiddle, hopefully to a place where he can feel belonging. Toland often addresses the concept of human vulnerability. She gravitates towards characters on the fringe of society. Sculpting them affords her the chance to suggest a narrative but also pull them into a larger concept concerning spiritual and social issues. She is interested in having the pieces work at levels beyond the realistic likeness. Toland hopes to impact the viewer emotionally, conceptually, and psychologically so that her work will resonate and connect with their deeper human qualities.
1981 MFA, Ceramics, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, USA 1975 BFA, Ceramics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
bow, 78 x 31x 30". Photo above courtesy of Red Star Studios.
Clare Twomey London, UK ClareTwomey.com b.1968 Ipswich, Suffolk, UK
Is It Madness. Is It Beauty. 2010, video.
Is It Madness. Is It Beauty was commissioned for the Siobhan Davies Studios to communicate ideas about the futility of human action. Clare Twomey made this piece in response to the repetitive actions of dancers in a choreographed dance program. Twomey's performance piece echoes many of the same motions and repetitions. It involves the continual filling and re-filling of a number of un-fired ceramic bowls with water. Over and over, again and again, visually emphasizing the human endeavor and desire to achieve. As the un-fired clay bowls collapsed they released their water and form. Yet the filling and collapsing continued, demonstrating the importance we ascribe to the notion of action and continued hope within our human condition.
Shalene Valenzuela Missoula, MT, USA Shalene.com b.1972 Santa Barbara, CA, USA 1997 MFA, Ceramics, California College of Arts & Crafts, Oakland, CA, USA 1994 BA, Art Practice, minor in Geography, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA
Dressform, 2012. Porcelain, underglaze, pins, wooden stand, 56 x 14 x 8". Photo: Chris Autio.
This collection of work by Shalene Valenzuela references sewing patterns. These patterns are used in both a formal and conceptual manner in the creation of each of the works. The physical manifestation of the pattern is apparent, either being the primary focus or a key element in each of the pieces. Conceptually, the pattern is used as a symbol of how we follow patterns in our own lives, either due to conditioning or conceived notions of what others expect from us. Though Valenzuela’s exploration of issues focusing on women in all of her works is apparent, her exploration of issues addressing selfperception and expectations reaches beyond just purely feminist concerns. It’s a question of how we all as humans strive to attain impossible ideals based on what others tell us we should be. Valenzuela’s Dressform was hand built onto a form with slabs, utilizing screen print transfer for the pattern design and then hand painted with underglaze. Her work successfully utilizes a combination of old and new technologies — slip casting, screen printing, digital imagery, hand-building techniques, and mold making. Like her instructor, Richard Shaw, Valenzuela uses trompe l'oeil to present objects imbued with many layers of meaning.
Jason Walker Bellingham, WA, USA JasonWalkerCeramics.com b.1973 Pocatello, ID, USA
Infinite Growth, 2013. Porcelain, china paint, glaze, 8' x 4' x 3".
Jason Walker has long used his exquisite drawing skills and ability to manipulate clay to push his ceramic forms past the decorative into clear and striking social commentary. Much of his work explores the conflicting worlds of nature and technology. Using his same visual language of objects from nature and things man-made, Infinite Growth exposes a different conflict. This piece is an examination of our current financial system and an in-depth look at several of the essential aspects that fuel its growth â€” corporate personhood, conflict, war, and massive debt. "This financial system is based on belief in the possibility of infinite growth," Walker explains. "Paradoxically, nothing lasts forever, and here lies the inherent contradiction to this ideology."
DOCUMENTING CHANGE Major changes in the art and craft market began when the 2008 economic downturn rendered old art marketing models through media-specific galleries and segregated art fairs less viable. Opportunities for independent selling via the Internet blossomed. Many collectors slowed their purchasing; some sold or gave away their collections. Museums also changed directions as they gathered up these classic masterworks that had become available from deaccessioned collections instead of creating survey exhibitions of newer, more innovative work. At this same time, digital technology became more integrated with design and production, communications, and marketing. Higher education in the arts was also experiencing change as a large number of artist-instructors retired and departments shifted from media specific to broader curriculum categories of sculpture and 3-D design. This new generation of educators could teach from a perspective of understanding studio craft’s historic significance. Within academia, and with the financial stability of salaried positions, these artists were freed from the stagnant marketplace to pursue their personal artistic paths. After observing these shifts and changes, we began to ask some serious questions about the direct effects on the artists. Who were the successful, long-established artists who had adapted to the changing art environment of the early twenty-first century? Who were the mid-career artists, just settling into their own styles, whose work needed to evolve because of these changes? Who were the young artists whose work both reacted to and informed the direction of new developments? 2012 was an ideal time to ask this set of questions and in the process take a snapshot of the ceramic field. Clay—as a medium for artists identified with studio craft, fine art, and design—was experiencing a noticeable transition influenced by several factors: the economic recession; the aging of a generation of artists, scholars, and collectors; and the availability of new technologies for communication and creation. Mounting a survey exhibition documenting the response of contemporary artists to these significant forces would help us understand these influences and find the answers to our questions. In the past, major shows were created by commercial galleries using staff and volunteer interns and were funded by sales—there was no outside funding from public grants or private investors. For more than 30 years, this system worked for Ferrin Gallery. We produced hundreds of thematic exhibitions presenting opportunities for artists to create and collectors to acquire new artwork. Yet in recent times, that model of presenting shows and new artwork has faltered. With full knowledge of the risk and a strong commitment to this project, we chose to create this exhibition using our old methods and gambled on the hopes that income from sales would cover the costs. So, we sent out a call for entries. The response was overwhelming. Over 475 submissions from 40 countries flowed in— a very high number relative to other open calls for group exhibitions at this time. Ferrin Contemporary staff and volunteers helped sort and sift through the piles of applications to narrow down the list of eligible artists. Leslie Ferrin, director of Ferrin Contemporary, and
Michael Baxley, gallery manager at Red Star Studios at Belger Crane Yard Studios, then took over to select the finalists. They sought to identify leaders and innovators with the intent that their final selection would represent both the up-and-coming generation of artists as well as established artists who are breaking new ground. The newly opened 10,000 square-foot Red Star Studios at Belger Crane Yard Studios in Kansas City, MO, was chosen as the first exhibition space. The size of the space, along with the transportation expertise and equipment of Belger Cartage Service, Inc., allowed a selection of significant work that included large-scale work, installations, and video. This was an valuable asset to presenting a more complete view of current ceramics. In the late spring of 2014, the exhibit opened at its second venueâ€”the newly established gallery space Gallery 224, a part of the Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard. Kathy King, their director of education, aided in the selection of work for this smaller location as it required a re-selection of the work in a way that ensured that the essence of the exhibition would be preserved. While the world of ceramic art continues to grow and evolve, the period after 2008 represented the dawning of a new era, a passing of the torch, as one generation fades and another rises to take its place. Never before has there been such a collision of changes in production and marketing, economic shifts, and the social fabric of the art form. Ceramic Top 40 features work by individual artists, collaborators, and design partners who are working on the cutting edge of current processes, ideas, and presentation concepts in conceptual, utilitarian and sculptural ceramics. They are responding to the external forces of a changing world and, in turn, shaping what happens next for themselves and a generation that is still defining itself. REVEALING TRENDS Several trends became evident as we came to understand the artistic practice of the artists featured in the exhibition. Their sources of information and imagery, their means of communication and collaboration, and the influences of instruction and formats for exploration were revealed by the works presented. What follows is an examination of these trends, both established and innovative, and their influences on the artwork of Ceramic Top 40. INTERNET AS SOURCE MATERIAL The Internet has become the primary tool artists use for research. Worldwide access to the internet has leveled the field for artists, who now have equal access to publicly shared information 24/7, regardless of their physical location or ability to travel. For the artists who are around 40 years of age or younger, there is no pre-internet world. Historic source material, both images and ideas, once the domain of museums and libraries, is now available with a few clicks of a mouse or finger taps on a phone. It is easier than it has ever been to view classic forms and learn about their underlying concepts. Digitized historic images can be borrowed and incorporated into work as collage elements and decals. Construction techniques can be learned from written instruction and video demonstrations. The best results from access to this incredible resource and related tool kit comes when it is used to feed the creative process in service to the artists' ideas and is combined with the hand skills and experience
essential to the success of creating the final piece. The combining of traditional forms, techniques, imagery, and decorative styles is used as a vehicle for contemporary expression in much of the work in Ceramic Top 40. Web Souvenirs of Doda Designs by Raeâ€™ut Stern and Aya Margulis was based entirely on the phenomenon of web surfing. They use images drawn from the web that reflect their Israeli culture filtered through updated patterns and symbolic imagery. Daniel Listwan, Stephanie Rozene, and Adam Shiverdecker each use traditional decorative vessel forms that reference their original utility while infusing them with contemporary social content in a hybrid or mash-up blend of source, interpretation, and message. VIRTUAL HOW-TO In addition to sourcing imagery, forms, and ideas, the internet also provides new ways for artists to learn, share, and teach new technologies through how-to blogs, websites, and videos. Artists can easily share, interact, ask and answer questions, and offer step-by-step photo diaries of studio discoveries and process. As questions or problems arise, an artist can communicate freely and almost instantly with the presenter regardless of geography or language. Artists now have immediate access to technical expertise where before it was only available through books, workshops, and formal education. Because they have never known a world without Google, YouTube, virtual classrooms, and readily accessible social media connectivity, artists under 40 years of age are creating and producing works in a completely different manner than their predecessors. DIGITAL PRINT AND DESIGN Paul Scott, the author of the seminal how-to book about printing on ceramics, is credited with spreading the information of how to use digital print methods through his writing and teaching. His book, Ceramics and Print, now in its third edition, is the textbook for many classes. The use of digital photography and original or sourced print imagery in the form of decals, is now common practice in ceramics by artists of this generation, particularly among those who are working in multiples or collage. Richard Shaw, a confessed Luddite, is still actively teaching image transfer and utilizing this process in new ways in his own works. One of his former students, Shalene Valenzuela, credits him with introducing her to this approach and technology. Andy Brayman and Shawn Spangler use computer-aided design practices to develop their forms and molds that would not be easily achievable by other means and are actively sharing this technology as teachers and workshop leaders. THE IMPACT OF INDUSTRIAL RESIDENCIES Artist residency programs at industrial settings have influenced many of the artists in the show. The Arts/Industry program at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and workshop opportunities in Jingdezhen, China have had an impact on a full third of the artists. Exposure to industrial systems and technology at JMKAC and traditional Chinese workshops in Jingdezhen has changed studio practices for many individuals. By adapting production methods, incorporation of industrially-formed multiples, and integration of those components into singular artworks, contemporary artists have expanded their capabilities and their work.
The work of several Ceramic Top 40 artists produced, at least in part at these residencies, include Giselle Hicks whose tablescape was partially produced at Kohler in Arts/Industry. Rain Harris created her delicate porcelain flowers after working with a traditional flower artisan in China. Robin Best moved to Jingdezhen to avail herself of the materials, forms, and systems for producing her porcelain vases. Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis of Future Retrieval trained and perfected their skills during various visits to Jingdezhen. Robert Silverman and Jason Walker use ceramic tiles of a scale that are produced only in China. The tiles are then shipped back to the US where the artists complete their work. Steven Young Lee and Walter McConnell were inspired by the vast quantities and masses of decorative objects produced in China while on their visits. COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND COLLABORATION Social practice is another category in which art is used to bring a community together to produce a project or exchange information based on a creative process. Vipoo Srivilasa’s OBJECT: SPOON is an ongoing series of making and presenting spoons that engages a worldwide community of makers through a social network. The group of spoons shown at Red Star were made during a Medalta artist residency in Medicine Hat, AB, which aimed to build connections between the members of a diverse group. Over 25 international artists were involved. The design and material of each spoon reflected the individual style of each artist and at the same time they were an integral part of a larger whole. The group of spoons created an instant and valued collection of an object familiar to all cultures. The second spoon collection, on display at Harvard, was drawn from the response to a call for entries that was sent via social networks the following year, again engaging with and drawing together a global community. Claire Twomey is another leader in this practice. She is regularly engaged in projects that involve public participation both in production and in the subsequent presentation and consumption of her museum installations. In his work, Roberto Lugo uses inner city images, graffiti, and symbols on traditional decorative art forms common to his blended Puerto Rican-US cultural heritage. Much of his practice is fueled by ongoing engagement with his community and maintaining connections forged by working with clay. The trend in art-making to produce in a collaborative manner was reflected by the works produced by two pairs of artists, Future Retrieval's Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis and Doda Design's Aya Margulis and Rae’ut Stern. Both pairs create work as a team and function professionally under one name, sharing in conceptualizing, design, production, and marketing of the work. THE IMPORTANCE OF CLAY’S “GREEK” SYSTEM, UNIVERSITIES, and RESIDENCIES Artists around the age of 40 draw on a strong system of mentorship and community that has emerged in recent decades. The roots are in BFA and MFA programs — particularly those at Alfred University and Kansas City Art Institute. Their established faculty is key to offering support for students to land coveted positions at long term residency programs at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, Penland School of Crafts, The Clay Studio, and
Anderson Ranch Arts Center as well as shorter-term teaching opportunities at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Project Art, and the LH Project. The relationships that form between artists in these close-knit communities then provide a network of mutual support that continues for years after the residencies end. In addition to the subsidized studios and the surrounding multi-generational artistic communities, these residencies also provide important avenues of support for the resident artists. These opportunities include solo exit shows, ongoing on-site and on-line shops, and professional experience through teaching and public lectures. Now, many young artists are dependent on this important career step of multiple residencies and occasional administrative internships or studio assistantships. While government funding in the US for the arts at both the state and federal levels lags behind other countries, private and foundation support for artists and institutions is much higher than in other countries with a history of strong government-supported cultural funding. Young artists whose careers are launched in these residencies are often selected and funded through private or foundation scholarships. These opportunities give artists the time and place that allows them to produce new work for exit shows and site-specific installations. Residencies also often lead to professional exposure that opens doors to other exhibitions and foreign biennales. CHANGING ROLE OF MUSEUMS Museum are contributing in several new ways to the creative process. Many museums are digitizing and providing unique and valuable information about their collections on the internet, making it available for artists doing research from any point on the globe. Some museums are also offering opportunities to produce new works and sometimes site-specific installations as was once done by art galleries. The younger generation of decorative art curators in the USA are following trends in European and Asian institutions that invite contemporary artists into the museum to bring life to their collections. New artwork that references the historic is set among period pieces within museum collections and room settings, layering multiple levels of information and meaning that, in turn, establishes new stories and histories for both the new work and the old. The groupings then become part of a larger scale, full-blown installation concept. Artists Dirk Staschke, Gerit Grimm, Giselle Hicks, Robin Best, Stephen Bird, Stephen Bowers, Jessica Brandl, Michelle Erickson, and Leopold Foulem all mine history and culture, weaving together elements from literature, fine art, and historic decorative art. They derive content and mimic techniques to deliver contemporary statements that range from social and political criticism to personal narratives. Artists Paul Scott, Anders Ruhwald, Walter McConnell, Claire Twomey, and the collaborators of Future Retrieval's Katie Parker and Guy Michael Davis, take it one step further and work directly within the museum setting presenting the finished works within an installation to offer comparisons to contemporary ideas within a historic setting. Some of the more ephemeral installations are preserved with photographic or video documentation. ABSTRACTION Abstract expressionism in clay that started in the 1950s is experiencing a revival today.
In fact, a large percentage of submissions for the show were of work based on abstraction. We could easily have created an exhibition devoted entirely to abstraction of form, surface decoration, and concept. To sift through the mass, we needed to define clearer criteria in the selection process. Effective abstraction needs to be executed with practiced skill and purpose. Although much of the unskilled work was interesting, we chose those artists who exhibited control of the processes, whose abstraction was more practiced and intentional and bore witness to new ceramic art forms. Ron Nagle is an established living master from the generation that founded contemporary abstraction in ceramics. He continues to expand his powerful, integrated use of glaze and form, delivering color-emphasized shape as small-scale fetishes. Abstract yet familiar, these objects deliver through contrasting colors, intentional and controlled drips, and carefully sculpted intrusions that reveal the plastic qualities of clay and the essence of glaze. Lauren Mabryâ€™s simple cylindrical forms are drawn and painted with expressive gestures and intentional use of layers that blend colors through barely controlled melted, flowing glazes. Robert Silverman also uses the chemistry and firing process of glaze to create abstraction. In his painterly style, he covers large format tiles and pushes the glazes to skew type and graphic symbols, allowing the vertical pull of liquid glaze to distort and blend images and colors. Peter Christian Johnsonâ€™s constructed architectural forms employ the raw materials to create semi-planned distortions utilizing glaze to highlight and unify surface and form. A room-sized installation by Mark Cooper is made up of expressionistic vessels placed on ready-made store bought shelving presented in a spacious setting with his prints and photography decorating the walls. Susan Beiner coats abstracted organic plant forms with luscious glazes. Ryan Labar and Linda Sormin create sculptural collages of abstract forms derived from or created to look like found objects that when assembled challenge the stability and fragility of clay. Emily Sudd melts groups of found ceramic objects into flat masses thus abstracting and distorting the objects while maintaining some of their original character. Brian R. Jones presents a conceptual work, a plate on a rack contained in a framed box, functioning both as an abstraction of the idea of the object and as an abstract form that requires audience participation. Sara Moorhouse, one of the only vessel makers in the exhibition, uses glaze to convey formal color theory through optical color. OBJECTIFICATION Artists who examined or focused on the power of the object to convey a message continues a long standing tradition of 3-D ceramics in which objects convey narrative that takes the form of still life collections, surrealism, trompe lâ€™oeil, or social commentary. Sean Erwin creates figural works that used a combination of familiar objects to define character. Misty Gamble presents a rain shower of cupcakes over a large-scale big haired woman figure for her self-portrait. Shalene Valenzuela references the forms of domestic objects and uses the surfaces to convey feminist ideology. Michael Schwegmann and Linda Lighton work from the object as political commentary. FINANCIAL SUPPORT The sources of income for artists have also undergone dramatic change in recent years. Before the 2008 economic slump, artists could rely on sales or teaching as their primary source. Because sales are flagging and teaching positions are increasingly offered as non-tenured and
part time, artists are juggling multiple income streams to support their art practice. As a result, artists are increasingly looking to grant funding, using unpaid interns, taking up part-time teaching positions, and tapping into crowd-sourced funding to help fund their art production. In the past, university positions provided benefits, assistants, studio space, and materials but these positions are fewer and new hires do not always receive compensation the way their predecessors did. Funding from the Virginia A. Groot Foundation was pivotal for several Ceramic Top 40 artists. For 25 years, this foundation has awarded annual grants of up to $35,000 primarily to ceramic sculptors based on the quality of their work and proposals. The funding has provided enormous support to artists to create larger and more complex works and installations. Five artists who have received funding from the foundation were invited to participate in Ceramic Top 40 and designated as leaders in the field of figural sculpture at mid-career include Beth Cavener, Cristina Cordova (the only artist in Ceramic Top 40 who was also featured in the 40 Under 40 exhibition), Allesandro Gallo, and Dirk Staschke. Through the foundation award, Tip Tolland was able to increase the scale of her work exponentially and continues to push the limits of scale, detail, and challenging subject matter. Leslie Ferrin director of Ferrin Contemporary fall 2014
CERAMIC TOP 40 | 2013 November 1, 2013â€“January 25, 2014 presented by Ferrin Contemporary and Red Star at Belger Crane Yard Studios Kansas City, MO, USA
CERAMIC TOP 40 | selected works May 17â€“June 27, 2014 selected works from artists in Ceramic Top 40 | 2013 presented by Ferrin Contemporary and the Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard Gallery 224, Allston, MA, USA Ceramic Top 40 was curated by Leslie Ferrin, director of Ferrin Contemporary with the assistance of Michael Baxley, gallery manager of Red Star Studios at Belger Crane Yard Studios and Kathy King, director of education at Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard.
Ceramic Top 40 Ceramic art is experiencing an evolutionary leap. Economic conditions and technological advances have caused a dramatic shift in the way contemporary ceramics are conceived, designed, produced, and marketed. Ceramic Top 40 is an exhibition that emerged from the need to document this defining time in contemporary ceramics. Taking a snapshot of this pivotal transition provides a look back at recent history, an understanding of these forces of change, and a glimpse into the future of ceramic art. This survey exhibition features work by individual artists, collaborators, and design partners who are working on the cutting edge of current processes, ideas, and presentation concepts in conceptual utilitarian and sculptural ceramics. They are responding to the external forces of a changing world and, in turn, shaping those influences.
Ferrin Contemporary Red Star Studios at Belger Crane Yard Studios Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard