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The exhibition documented through this catalog is produced by the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) in cooperation with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

© 2016 NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without prior permission of the publisher. The 2016 NCECA Invitational and NCECA’s 50th Annual Conference in and around Kansas City, Missouri in 2016 are supported in part by a grant from the ArtWorks program of the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts is deeply grateful for this support and that of other donors. Cover photo: detail of Chase Grover’s Chance Construction Catalog Design: Candice Finn Projects Manager: Kate Vorhaus


ARTISTS: Dylan Beck Jessica Brandl Andy Brayman Trisha Coates Bryan Czibesz in collaboration with Shawn Spangler Chase Grover Ben Harle Robert Harrison Beth Katleman CURATORS: Catherine L. Futter Leigh Taylor Mickleson

Mika Negishi Laidlaw in collaboration with Dave Ryan & Steve Ryan Simone Leigh Nathan Mabry Zemer Peled Adams Puryear Carrie Reichardt Tom Sachs Thomas Schmidt Paul Scott Adam Shiverdecker Anthony Stellaccio Brendan Tang Ehren Tool Joey Watson Dustin Yager

Curatorial Statement

 Catherine L. Futter, Director, Curatorial Affairs, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art    Leigh Taylor Mickleson, NCECA Exhibitions Director We are delighted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NCECA with the 2016 Invitational Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change – an experience that should reveal some of the endless permutations of clay in contemporary art. After a rigorous review, we have selected 24 artists working today who are pushing the boundaries of the medium and exploring connections between clay, art, process and social issues. So much is happening with this versatile medium: in form, function, process, engagement, and permanence. We have strived to include artists who are using clay as a material, not an end in-and-of itself. Unconventional Clay allowed us to think about how the material is being used in dynamic, interactive and innovative ways. Our challenge was that there is so much exciting work being done—how could we narrow down our choices? How could we indicate all the different manifestations of something that is “unconventional”? We started by identifying works that are avant-garde in the process of production: Bryan Czibesz, together with Shawn Spangler, are using 3-D printers to generate inventive forms that would not otherwise be readily created through more conventional means. Thomas Schmidt and Andy Brayman each use digital programs to design forms and decals, with Brayman exploring notions of mobility, history and technology. We also looked for artists who are investigating unconventional ideas about clay as material. Tom Sachs captured the theme of the exhibition in the statement: “I want porcelain to be one of my iconic materials like plywood and duct tape.” He explores ceramics in hand-worked tea bowls ironically emblazoned with the iconic NASA logo and a rendering of an 18th-century French ceramic vase in paper, screws and shoelaces. The use of media other than clay in this exhibition plays a large part in re-defining the role of ceramics in art-making. Mika Negishi Laidlaw with her collaborators Dave and Steve Ryan incorporate porcelain forms with new technologies to orchestrate an astonishingly interactive installation. Ben Harle constructs, destroys, reforms and captures on video the ephemeral nature of ceramics to address notions of permanence and impermanence. Situated in the context of our political present, Adam Shiverdecker awes us with life-size ceramic deconstructions of a Lear Jet using wire, slip and glaze. Anthony Stellaccio materializes the past, using earth from personally significant locations to fashion memento mori. Dylan Beck and Adams Puryear each introduce unfamiliar media, such as goo, to expand on notions of what the term ceramics is and means today.  While clay has been used to create musical instruments for millennia, Joey Watson transforms the pot into a vessel for the breath and multi-sensory experiences. Clay also reveals itself in the elaborate forms of complex compositions, such as Beth Katleman’s multi-component wall piece Hostile Nature, which recalls and re-imagines children’s storybooks, English 18th-century wallpapers and ceramic figurines. Trisha Coates constructs complicated, layered panels of cast porcelain objects that invite us to create our own narratives. Zemer Peled painstakingly builds dazzling sculptures made of porcelain shards. Robert Harrison configures industrial ceramic pipes with found ceramics to create a dialogue between fine and low art. Nathan Mabry plays with art history, interpreting pre-contact Mezo-American ceramics by unifying them with pedestals inspired by the “stacks” and “boxes” of Donald Judd. Ceramic wares of various eras and cultures have portrayed narratives and sometimes social commentary through use of imagery, symbolism and iconography. Today, more and more artists are not only expressing opinions but also engaging in interactive art-making to promote social change. Two stools by Dustin Yager, covered with decals related to the AIDS crisis create a sense of place and the starting point of conversation. Simone Leigh explores historical and contemporary issues of the African and the African-American female experience. Ehren Tool works with communities to collect and record personal memories of war on simple thrown cups. Carrie Reichardt, who self-identifies as a “craftivist,” employs her skillful work as a form of protest, condemning injustice in her intricate screen printed plates and installations. We have also selected several artists working in traditional methods and processes to create works of art that are breaking new ground. Although other-worldly, Chase Grover’s intricate constructions are fastidiously fashioned by hand. Paul Scott intervenes and alters historical 19th-century English transferwares, manipulating narratives from history, while Jessica Brandl’s detailed interior settings and exterior landscape drawings bring present and past together on engaging, utilitarian pots. Brandon Tang marries disparate eras of ceramic history (Ming Dynasty China and 18th-century France) with contemporary Japanese anime and manga. While not comprehensive, we hope that Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change will reveal insights into the ever-changing and always engaging ways that artists are working with clay to generate discourse about the medium’s possibilities and meanings.

Venue Statement Welcome to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art – an encyclopedic museum dedicated to ceramics in its many manifestations! The museum is excited to host the 2016 NCECA Invitational Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change as part of the 50th anniversary conference held in Kansas City. With the city’s exceptional history in teaching, producing, exhibiting and collecting ceramics, Kansas City is the ideal location for this momentous international celebration of this rich medium. Clay and its manipulation has been intrinsic to mankind—from simple storage and cooking pots and animal and human figurines produced about 26,000 years ago, to the 3-D printed ceramics of today. Clay plays a role in art, science and technology. It has transformed the world we live in—and Kansas City and NCECA will celebrate the diversity of expression. I hope that NCECA participants will take advantage of the vast array of exhibitions displayed throughout the city and at the Nelson-Atkins. Ceramics are one of the pillars of the museum. Works throughout time and place are displayed throughout the museum, representing all the world’s cultures—from ancient to contemporary. The Asian collections include early Chinese earthenwares, stonewares and fine Sung and Ming porcelains, Japanese stonewares and porcelains, and Indian terracottas and tiles. Low-fired wares with a variety of decorative techniques can be found in the African and Native American galleries. The Ancient collection displays forms and narratives used in banquets and as athletic prizes. The celebrated Burnap Collection of English Pottery contains noted slipwares, salt-glazed stonewares and decorative techniques such as agate ware, while Continental European porcelains are shown nearby. The museum also holds important works by contemporary Kansas City artists, such as the illustrious Ken Ferguson, late professor of ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute. Kansas City is burgeoning with new energy and the exhibition Unconventional Clay captures that dynamism. The city, as the exhibition, strives to emphasize current issues, technologies and processes and break down barriers that might limit the imagination and potential of this great medium. With the 50th anniversary of NCECA, I hope you are inspired by discovering Kansas City and the Nelson-Atkins! Welcome! Julián Zugazagoitia Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director & CEO The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

NCECA Acknowledgments Clay is a product of change. Its formation is the result of chemical decomposition on feldspathic rock— transformations tens of thousands of years in the making through weather, erosion and geologic process. Throughout human history, artmaking with clay has incorporated material and technical advances along with traditional skills and knowledge. Even within the timespan of creation of a single work, the ceramic endeavor is complex and slippery in our efforts to control it. In its finished state, the clay object embodies contradiction: it is both durable and fragile. Context is also central to the creation and experience of ceramic wares. Over time, the medium has been employed not only for utilitarian purposes, but also to carry myths, legends and explorations of the human condition. As the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts marks its 50th year, Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change is an apt match for the current state of clay in creation, teaching and learning. We are immensely grateful to our friends at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for the generosity of spirit and intellectual rigor that make this exhibition possible. Joshua Green Executive Director, NCECA

Dylan Beck   Portland | OR

My artwork explores the interaction of human activities with the natural environment and the idea that we are currently living in the Anthropocene, where human activities have had a significant global impact on the Earth’s ecosystems. Within this domain, my interests range from concepts of land and natural resource use to the psychological effects of living in the “non-places” of a hypermodern world. Our contemporary condition has given us an overwhelming trust in progress and created a general disregard for our relationship to natural systems and processes.

Cloud Fracula, 2015 ceramic, unfired glaze, various petroleum products, and wood 72” x 36” x 40”


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Jessica Brandl   Kingston | NY

Objects can tell a fantastic story, but simply looking at artifacts of human culture with a scientific view does not always animate the full experience. Starting with simple domestic objects, I build out with content, engaging topics of sentiment, illustrating the natural world, and describing our inextricable link to the environment. I believe that the sensation of true wonder is possible in all things. It is this feeling that conjures and inspires the imagination from which we attempt to narrate, organize, and communicate the peculiarities of life and the physical world.

Unravel, 2015 terracotta with white slip, underglaze, and engobe 22” x 22” x 4”


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Andy Brayman Kansas City | MO

My work is a combination of traditional craft,1 industrial processes,2  and contemporary art strategies.3 Of all the pots that I make, I am most pleased with the ones that are cunning. They contain a sort of playful deception that is not always visible straightaway. At their best, the pots demonstrate an object’s potential to be both beautiful4 and cerebral.5

Bowl with Two Vases, 2015 porcelain 13” x 20.5” x 18” *Depicted work was provided by the artist for catalog publication. New work premiers at this exhibition. 1 2 3 4 5

Using my hands. Using machines and other people’s hands. Being part of a conversation of living artists. Once stubborn material, now shaped and transcendent. Smart but hopefully not over-intellectual and boring.


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Trisha Coates   Wichita | KS

My work engages the idea that our relationship to the past and our own personal histories is more fluid and impermanent than we are led to believe. I believe memory is not a system of retrieval but an adaptive, constructive process, where recollection produces not a likeness, but a version of a past experience linked more to circumstances in the present. Memory then becomes an eternal re-thinking and re-evaluation, continually being rewritten by current perceptions. It illuminates as much about our present desires as it does the past as a form of truth. Because memory is an ever-shifting confluence of past and present, my work relies on the fragile and fragmented. I engage porcelain’s dialectical properties as a material liquid and solid, soft and immutable, fragile and strong. It is by emphasizing these qualities that I am able to underscore the shifting perceptions found within remembering and perceiving. I drip, coat, cast, render, shatter and reconstruct the porcelain. Using the language of delicacy and walking the line between ephemeral and permanent, I create works that explore the creative act of remembering and suggest that searching doesn’t always lead to finding.

The Ongoing Moment - Footpath to Marsh Pond, 2015 porcelain on panel 48” x 72” x 8” Searching for Utopia, 2015 porcelain and luster 48” x 32” x 6”


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Bryan Czibesz

in collaboration with 

  Kingston | NY   Honolulu | HI

Shawn Spangler

Exploring the ways that culture, labor, art, utility, and technology are implicitly tied, this work focuses on the differences and similarities between hand-forming processes and digital reproduction technologies. The work not only probes how digital tools can be used in the creation of new forms and surfaces, but also considers theoretical questions regarding the slippery boundaries between convention and invention. The work also considers how technology, in constant transition, continues to shape the timeless tradition of producing ceramic work.

Precis Re/ Charting (Object 38, Object 2, Object 3), 2014 handbuilt, thrown, and 3D printed porcelain, and glaze 4” x 3” x 3” 6” x 4” x 4” 6” x 4” x 4”


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Chase Grover Ellensburg | WA

Many things that are so simple are often taken for granted. We forget, or choose to ignore, how fragile everything and everyone are, often failing to appreciate what we are so dependent on. In any situation we are dependent on a variable that may seem stable, but is a variable nonetheless. When this variable is disturbed, the entire system is affected. This is the “Butterfly Effect,” the notion that the chance flapping of a butterfly’s wings have the potential to affect the weather. I create networks of delicate components that are forced to support one another, often creating scenarios that explore a false sense of security or fragility. This visual exploration shows, in the physical aspect, the dependence of each object on the others. By presenting the same structure repeatedly, I am able to show its true variability and instability; showing delicate forms in the role of both “guardian” and “helpless victim.” Ultimately, I want the viewer to consider the instability within all objects and apply this concept to the elements of their everyday lives; to be aware of the tenuous connections that hold everything together.

Second Chance, 2015 earthenware, colored porcelain, colored stoneware, underglaze, glaze, and thread 18” x 9” x 7”


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Ben Harle   Kansas City | MO

I often consider the fact that properly fired ceramics will last forever. The original object may shatter or break, but the material itself is nearly impossible to decompose. I allow water to naturally manipulate form by leaving clay unfired. My process attempts to discover a visual beauty through this constant destruction. Video technology can often mask reality. I utilize this idea throughout all aspects of my process including conception, production and installation.

Moments of Impact, 2015 (sequential images) porcelain, water, fluorescent lighting, LED, and video 216” x 108” x 108”


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Robert Harrison   Helena | MT

I began my professional career working in ceramics forty years ago. My initial work was through the vessel format, focusing on form and East Asian traditions in clay. After several years of exploring the vessel the work took a decidedly sculptural bent. The next few years brought an increase in scale and a focus on site, with the ideas drawing heavily on influences in architecture, land art and the introduction of other nature based sculptural materials.

Pipe Dream: Romantic Interlude, 2015 reclaimed historic clay pipe with repurposed industrial porcelain and painted wood base 31” x 21” x 21”


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Beth Katleman   Brooklyn | NY

Upon your first glimpse of Beth Katleman’s “Folly” you may feel that you have been fortunate enough to return to some world you once knew or imagined, an enticing but safe and proper place. Creamy-white islands, each just the right distance from each, float through a blue world, like clouds floating across a sky or islands in a waveless ocean. You know exactly where you are. At once pastoral and classy, neoclassical and faux-Orientalist, it’s the world of blue-and-white china or of 18th century wallpaper “toile de jouy” come to vivid three-dimensional life. And I do mean life. POST-IMPERIAL LONGINGS: Beth Katleman’s Naughty Arcadia Anthony Haden-Guest My sculptures and installations evoke a world of genteel pleasure, but beneath the surface, there are hints of misbehavior. An elf rides a colossal snail toward the Sacré Coeur, a reindeer answers nature’s porcelain call, and bridesmaids whisper, oblivious to the baby drowning in the pond. The oddities in this strange paradise come from my collection of flea market treasures. I borrow the language of the decorative arts to explore themes of domestic disturbance and lost innocence. Porcelain suggests both the opulence of royal wares and the kitsch exuberance of mass-market souvenirs. I love the power of objects to hold memory, but I am not immune to the price we pay for our obsession with consumption.

Hostile Nature, 2014 porcelain, wire, and chains 96” x 70” x 5“ Photo credit: Malcolm Varon On loan from Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary


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Mika Negishi Laidlaw  Dave & Steve Ryan  

in collaboration with  

Mankato | MN    G rinnell | IA

This collaboration brings together makers from three different realms of expertise: video, ceramics, and neuroscience. Dave Ryan is a media artist who works with interactive video installation, Mika Negishi Laidlaw is a ceramic artist who works with slip-cast porcelain and hand-built earthenware and Steve Ryan is a neuroscientist specializing in sensor design.

Vigilants, 2015 porcelain, digital projection, and video motion tracker 48” x 96” x 6” Photo credit: Dave Ryan


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Simone Leigh Brooklyn | NY

Simone Leigh expands her exploration of ceramic-based and multimedia sculptural installations that celebrate the woman’s role in African and African American history. Long concerned with making manifest the role of women’s work in object-making as a vehicle to investigate questions of history, tradition, race and identity, Leigh’s current exhibition expands the possibilities both in her use of materials and in her approach to sculpture as performance. Ceramic glazed cowrie shells, formed from watermelon molds, often stand-alone works or combined in hanging installations, here become more direct stand ins for the female body, and, as Leigh has written, for her “ongoing exploration of black female subjectivity.” These shells are perched on and anchored by voluptuous fabric-covered cage-like armatures shaped like the bustles or “panniers” of 17th and 18th century hoop skirts. These refer at once to dresses worn across European and African and South American cultures — from Spain and Victorian England to the present day dress of the Herero in Namibia and other African countries, across the Caribbean, and in Brazil. A nod to the colonization of African cultures, where African women adapt the Western European woman’s standard of dress, it also harks back to the dresses of American Southern mammies during slavery as well as to a specific giant architectural sculpture, a pancake house entered through the figure’s skirt, in Mississippi. As always, Leigh accesses multiple memories, while creating her own specific identities.

Cowrie (pannier), 2015 terracotta, porcelain, and steel 58” x 54” x 32” Cowrie (sage), 2015 terracotta, porcelain, sage, string, wire, and steel 36” x 28” x 28” Photo credit: courtesy of the artist and Tilton Gallery


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Nathan Mabry   Los Angeles | CA

“How long it’s been since yesterday, what about tomorrow and what about our dreams and all the memories we share? The rejected stone is now the cornerstone Sort of like the master builder when I make my way home Look at your children See their faces in golden rays  Don’t kid yourself they belong to you  They’re the start of a coming race” -Various Artists

Shapeshift (Snake), 2013 terracotta, aluminum, Plexiglas®, and painted stainless steel 73” x 36” x 48” Photo credit: Robert Wedemeyer


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Zemer Peled   Helena | MT

Zemer Peled’s work examines the beauty and brutality of the natural world. Her sculptural language is formed by her surrounding landscapes and nature, and engages with themes of memories, identity, and place. The association of porcelain with grace, refinement and civilization gets turned on itself when we are confronted with this material in another state. When a porcelain form is broken down into shards, the brutality of its jagged edges is juxtaposed with its insistent fragility. The material becomes violent and pretty, hard but breakable. When seen in the organic formations of Peled’s structures, a whole for the shards is recreated, this time estranged from its original context of neatness, tradition and cultivation but nonetheless unified by an overall cohesiveness of movement and composition.

Process details for New Year’s Best Dreams, 2015 ceramics shards, clay, and metal 50” x 50” x 80” Photo credit: Amanda Wilkey


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Adams Puryear Brooklyn | NY

Adams Puryear utilizes several sculptural materials to investigate the way we assimilate bits of information—particularly from the digital realm—to create new, collaged-together wholes. Analogous to visual blog sites such as Tumblr, the fragmented ideas and identities found in each sculpture blend together, each losing bits and pieces of its unique origin in order to create a piled together generality; the large amount of ooze moving from inside a sculpture onto the ground.

2 Dons, swimming on the ground, laughing, 2012 (sequential images) ceramic, plaster, polymer clay, paint, and slate 56” x 30” x 71”


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Carrie Reichardt London | United Kingdom

I believe that art is the most powerful tool we have to bring about social unity. As a practitioner within the extreme/radical craft movement that works as both a community and public artist, I produce highly politicized pieces. Through working with international communities, I have come to see how artists can act as conduits and aid others in finding their own personal creative voices. I find it beautiful how this process allows for a dialogue to open where there might not otherwise have been one. My own personal work embodies this notion of art serving as a conversation starter for topics that may be difficult or divisive. For the last ten years I have specialized in the transfer of image onto clay, and become passionate about making work that conveys the people’s history. By doctoring an eclectic range of imagery and juxtaposing simple words and sayings, I invite viewers to re-think their entrenched beliefs and ideas. My work is an extension of my activism and all my creativity comes from a desire to bring about equality and justice. The beauty of craft is that it hooks into a primitive part of our psyche, one that helps challenge viewers both emotionally and intellectually.

Bringing the Boys Back Home, 2010 ceramic plates with digital transfers 8.5� diameter Desert Strom, 2010 ceramic plates with digital transfers 7.75� diameter


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Tom Sachs    New York | NY

Almost everything made today is done so digitally, as to look polished and perfect. Companies like Apple and Sony have strived to create products that have no seams and appear robotically made. For a ceramicist, using the wheel allows you to erase any evidence of the human hand. Building by hand, the artist shows the fingerprints in the work- something Apple can and will never be able to do. Sachs employs this practice in all his work, and recently, has been using it in his ceramics. His Japanese tea bowls (chawans) are built using the most primitive pinch-pot method and his other ceramic sculptures all show the scars of his labor. The dents, cracks and errors are evident in the handmade and are what make the product the result of an individual.

NASA Chawan, 2012 porcelain with red engobe inlay, Temple white glaze 2.5” x 3.5” x 3.5” Courtesy of Baldwin Gallery Sévres, 2015 mixed media 15” x 8.75” x 5.75” Courtesy of Russell Piccione Collection Photo credit: Genevieve Hanson


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Thomas Schmidt    Charlotte | NC

While I use a range of media, my work is largely informed by my background in ceramics. For fifteen years I have been working in clay and studying the history of this medium as a source of historical iconography and methodologies from which to define and articulate material experiments. The central drive of my studio practice is a sense of discovery that develops as I investigate materials and their properties. I use methods such as mold-making, scanning, and photography to capture material moments. These samples can then be printed, cast, layered, and distorted. This process fascinates me, because like our own constructed histories, the objects are imbued with layers of material memory that echo and obscure the original event, and the object therefore contains a story to unfold.

Map Series, #1, 2016 cast porcelain, ceramic decals, graphite, and resin 12” x 18” x 10” approximate *  Depicted work was provided by the artist for catalog publication. New work premiers at this exhibition.


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Paul Scott   Cumbria | England

I create artwork that blurs the boundaries between fine art, craft, and design. Using altered antique wares, digital tools, decals, collage, storytelling and remediation, I re-animate traditional blue and white transferware for the twenty-first century. My work tells stories that explore the unexpected movement of images through materials, media, cultures, politics, histories, and geographies.

Scott’s Cumbrian Blue(s), Palestine, Gaza, 2015 inglaze decal collage with gold lustre on Adams Palestine platter, ca. 1840 15” x 11.75” On loan from Ferrin Contemporary


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Adam Shiverdecker Berkeley | CA

Much of my work imagines what would happen if the entire military arsenal were simply pushed into the ocean. I’m a pacifist, but I am also drawn to the sleekness, the power, and the materiality of machines of war. My work attempts to represent my ambivalence to icons of military might by taking the forms of fighter jets, submarines and drones and denaturing their surfaces. By reforming weapons out of wire, I reference both the practice of children’s war games and modeling, as well as everyday forms of construction like fencebuilding. I then coat these structures in irregular amounts of clay, allowing for an arbitrary amount of decay. It is this fantasy of decay – of a culture that could regard weapons of war as follies, as disintegrating monuments to an earlier era – which my work tries to trigger. My current project uses this structure of motorized decay to think about the accumulation of wealth and the resulting income inequality that characterizes contemporary American life. I take the Lear Jet – the iconic vehicle of the 1% -- and disfigure it. This disfigurement is meant as both a critique and a wish: I would like to imagine a nation where machinery could once again enable a more equitable distribution of wealth rather than shore up inequality.

Dystopian series: Rhyton, 2014 58” x 41” x 51” stoneware, earthenware, nichrome, underglazes, and steel Photo credit: Alan Wiener courtesy Greenwich House Pottery *  Depicted work was provided by the artist for catalog publication. New work premiers at this exhibition.


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Anthony Stellaccio Crownsville | MD

I must, to begin, accept that my life will always be haunted by the specters of loss. And so the objects I create begin at sites of memory and of mourning - a cemetery, the home of a loved one, or a historical site to which I can connect emotionally or spiritually. I collect earth and objects from these spaces, sometimes leaving what I can in their place and sometimes incorporating the sacrifice of irreplaceable objects into my work. These rituals constitute my creative process, they are confrontational and cathartic, and the creation of beauty and art is mostly incidental.

Raw Material #1 & #2, 2015 #1 Plexiglas®, ash (burned childhood toys), ceramic gourds, glaze, cement, corks, mementos from dead people, foodstuffs, and libations 5” x 5” x 12” #2 Plexiglas®, fired earth from the grave of the artist’s father, topsoil from the garden of the artist’s mother, ceramic gourds, glaze, cement, corks, mementos from dead people, foodstuffs, and libations 5” x 5” x 12” Photo credit: Dan Meyers


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Brendan Tang   Vancouver | Canada

Manga Ormolu enters the dialogue on contemporary culture, technology, and globalization through a fabricated relationship between ceramic tradition (using the form of Chinese Ming dynasty vessels) and Techno-Pop Art. The futuristic update of the Ming vessels in this series recalls 18th century French gilded ormolu, where historic Chinese vessels were transformed into curiosity pieces for aristocrats. But here, robotic prosthetics inspired by anime (Japanese animation) and manga (the beloved comics and picture novels of Japan) subvert elitism with the accessibility of popular culture.

Manga Ormolu, 2015 ceramics and mixed media 12” x 12” x 12”


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Ehren Tool   Berkeley | CA

I just make cups. I have made and given away more than 17,000 cups since 2001. After my experience in the 1991 Gulf War, with the Marine Corps, I am wary of the gap between a stated goal and its outcome. I am comfortable with the statement ‚ “I just make cups.” I’d like to trust that my work will speak for itself, now and over time.

Untitled (One of Thousands), 2015 glazed stoneware 5” each *  Depicted work was provided by the artist for catalog publication. New work premiers at this exhibition


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Joey Watson Kansas City | MO

My work is oriented around the concept of ceremonial procedure and the paraphernalia associated within its context. I’m interested in the forces that ritual objects imply and the sequence of operations necessary to activate them. The objects I create are intended to be utilitarian, but within specialized circumstances. Through this intention I invite percipients into choreographed scenarios that I hope entice a kind of transformative participation. I choose clay to work with because it will outlive me by millennia; in time these objects I create will be all that’s left of any suggestion of my existence, they become a fossilization of my spirit. On the other end of the spectrum, to work with this material is to harness a kind of ancestral lineage that humankind shares with it as one of our earliest technologies. It feels good to be at the center of that chronology in the present tense.

From performance Nada Univeige, 2015 mixed media 96” x 96” x 48” Overtone Drones, 2015 colored porcelain and lava glaze 20” x 14” x 11” Photo credit: EG Schempf *  Depicted work was provided by the artist for catalog publication. New work premiers at this exhibition.


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Dustin Yager Minneapolis | MN

My work draws attention to our hybrid role as consumers and producers of culture. We manufacture, manipulate, and mirror the values embodied by our material belongings and creations, often in response to personal experiences, comprehensive marketing campaigns, retail displays, and digital interactions. Through the selection and arrangement of objects, we draw boundaries of comfort, inclusion and exclusion, power and control. Drawing upon personal experience, I create large and small interventions to disrupt and question the flow of propriety in domestic spaces. My experiences of encountering gender, sexuality, class, urban/rural divisions, and art/craft distinctions influence my choice of presentation, material, and interaction. I often use found and handmade ceramic pieces as an entry point into the home by accessing a familiar material and set of rituals. I stretch this shared, nostalgic, and allegedly comfortable setting to create moments of identification, alienation, and reflection. I am ultimately interested in the role we each have in creating culture as a series of experiences which shape how we situate objects, places, and interactions in our daily relationships.

Untitled (Conversation Piece: Lips & Legs), 2014 porcelain, decals, and gold luster 21” x 17” x 17” 19” x 17” x 17” Photo credit: Peter Lee


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Dylan J. Beck is a studio artist and the Department Head of Ceramics at Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland, Oregon. He earned his BFA from Ohio University, a Post Baccalaureate Fellowship from Illinois State University, and his MFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia. Dylan has exhibited and lectured extensively and has published articles in Ceramics: Art & Perception, CFile, and the NCECA Journal. Beck also serves on the board for Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts and serves as the Board President for

Long wandering motorcycle rides and the nomadic tendencies of Jessica Brandl’s parents cultivated an early desire to dream about the natural world and those who pass though it.

Andy Brayman holds a BA in sociology and a BFA in ceramics from the University of Kansas (1996) and a MFA in ceramics from Alfred University (1998). His work is a combination of traditional craft, industrial processes, physical computing and contemporary art strategies. At their best, his pots demonstrate an object’s potential to be both beautiful and cerebral. In 2005, Andy founded The Matter Factory in Kansas City. It is part artist studio, part laboratory, and part factory. In addition to producing objects of his design, Brayman researches and builds computationally controlled machines for use in art making.




Trisha Coates was raised in both New England and the Midwest, spending significant periods of her childhood in New Hampshire and Kansas. In 2006, she received her BFA in studio art from the University of New Hampshire. After seven years as a practicing artist in the seacoast region of New Hampshire she went on to complete her MFA in ceramics from Wichita State University in 2015. She currently resides in Wichita, Kansas with her husband and daughter.

Bryan Czibesz earned his MFA from San Diego State University and his BA from Humboldt State University, and has shown his work in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally. He has been Artist-in-Residence at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemét, Hungary, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is currently Assistant Professor of Art in Ceramics at SUNY New Paltz.

Shawn Spangler, a native Pennsylvanian, is a ceramic artist currently living and working in Hawaii. Spangler’s work draws inspiration from craft, design and digital technology. His work raises questions concerning authorship and commoditization of objects, highlighting the connections and margins between traditional and modern processes of producing ceramic vessels. Spangler earned his MFA from Alfred University. He is currently serving as an Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaii Manoa and is a founding member of Objective Clay.

Jessica Brandl earned her MFA in ceramics from The Ohio State University and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. An active artist that engages ceramic sculpture, functional objects, and museum culture, her work has been shown nationally and internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions. Jessica is currently working as a studio artist in the Mid-Hudson River Valley region in Kingston, New York. Her most recent work involves 3-D scanning of historic ceramic objects and natural history museum specimens of extinct species.

Czibesz & Spangler have been collaborating since 2010.





Chase Grover is a 24 year old MFA candidate studying ceramics at Central Washington University. Chase spent his undergraduate years studying drawing, painting, graphic design and cinematography, earning his associates degree and focusing on metalsmithing and ceramics while at Eastern Illinois University in central Illinois. Chase is currently exploring autobiographical concepts and addressing ideas of vulnerability and dependence using delicate forms and structures.

Ben Harle is a multimedia ceramic artist originally from Des Moines, Iowa. Clay has been an important material for him ever since the age of 10, when he started taking classes at the Des Moines Art Center. Harle received his BFA in ceramics and art history from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2012. Harle’s installations often incorporate projection, video, or live happenings to create a dynamic viewing experience. He has recently shown work in Philadelphia, Asheville, Chicago, Kansas City, and Phoenix. Harle is currently producing a series of new installations from his studio in downtown Kansas City.

Robert Harrison is a practicing artist who lives and works in Helena, Montana. He has built his 40 year career in the site-specific large-scale architectural sculpture realm along with smaller-scale studio activity. He holds BFA and MFA degrees in ceramics and is a member of the IAC (International Academy of Ceramics, Geneva), WABA (World Association of Brick Artists), RCA (Royal Canadian Academy of Arts) and is a Fellow of National Council on Education for the Ceramics Arts. His exhibition and installation record is extensive and global. His book Sustainable Ceramics: A Practical Guide was co-published by Bloomsbury (London) and the American Ceramic Society (Ohio) in 2013. Robert is currently working on large-scale site-specific projects in Southern Denmark and Barcelona, Spain.




Beth Katleman creates large-scale porcelain installations that examine themes of consumption and desire. In his New York Times review, Ken Johnson described her sculptures as “doll-sized rococo theaters of murder and domestic mayhem.”

Born and raised in Kobe, Japan, Mika Negishi Laidlaw studied and worked both in the US and Japan. She was a 2004 NCECA Emerging Artist, demonstrator at the 2006 NCECA conference, and recipient of 2006, 2011 and 2015 McKnight Fellowship for Ceramic Artists.

She is represented internationally in many public and private collections, including major commissions for the Christian Dior flagship stores in Hong Kong and London. Other public collections include the M.H. de Young Museum, Nike, Inc., the Kim Changil Arario Museum, Seoul, South Korea, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Right Management, Inc., and the Archie Bray Foundation, among others.


Steve Ryan conducts neurobiology research at Grinnell College. Both for research and for interactive artwork, he designs, builds, and programs microcontrollerbased circuits, including a burst pattern stimulator, a sensor for detecting film edit reel rotation, a passive infrared motion detector and a capacitive touch sensor.

Dave Ryan has received grants from prestigious organizations such as the McKnight Foundation, Bush Foundation and MacDowell Art Colony. His work has been featured at exhibitions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New York Video Festival at the Lincoln Center in New York City and the Locarno Video Art Festival in Switzerland. ENGAGED IN CHANGE

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Simone Leigh’s practice is an object-based on-going exploration of black female subjectivity. She creates sculpture, videos and installations informed by her interest in African art, ethnographic research, feminism and performance. Leigh has received awards including the 2014 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant, 2011 Joan Mitchell Foundation grant and NYFA Fellowship for Sculpture. In 2012 she was a facilitator at the Asiko Art School, Lagos, Nigeria. Recent and upcoming solo and group exhibitions include MAD Museum, Tilton Gallery, and SculptureCenter in New York; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria; L’Appartement22, Rabat, Morocco; and AVA Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa. Her work has been featured in publications including BOMB Magazine, The New York Times, and Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art.

Nathan Mabry received his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2013, the Nasher Sculpture Center presented a solo exhibition, Sightings: Nathan Mabry. Mabry recently had the six-part sculpture Process Art (B-E-A-G-G-RE-S-S-I-V-E) on view at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia. His work is in such collections as the Dallas Museum of Art; Vanhaerents Art Museum; Hammer Museum; Museum of Contemporary Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; 176 / Zabludowicz Collection; The Rubell Family Collection, and Whitney Museum of American Art.

Zemer Peled (b. 1983) was born and raised in a kibbutz in the northern part of Israel. After completing her BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (Jerusalem), she earned her MA at the Royal College of Art (UK). In recent years, her work has been exhibited internationally, including such venues as Sotheby’s and Saatchi Gallery (London), Eretz Israel Museum (Tel Aviv), and the Orangerie du Senate (Paris), among others. Her work is in many private collections around the world. She is currently a Visiting Artist at the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).




Adams Puryear received his BFA in sculpture from the Massachusetts College of Art in 2004 and his MFA in ceramics at Indiana University in Bloomington in 2012. He exhibits his sculptural work regularly and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He is also the founder of FPOAFM Nomadic Art/Craft Collective, a project-driven experimental craft collective.

Carrie Reichardt is a craftivist whose work blurs the boundaries between craft and activism, using the techniques of ceramic and mosaic to create intricate, politicized works of art. Reichardt achieved a First Class degree in fine art from Leeds University and has since been involved in international community and public art projects for two decades. Her most recent ceramic installation was for the facade of the Victoria and Albert Museum, whilst her Tiki Love Truck, a ceramic-adorned vehicle, was the star exhibit inside as part of the critically acclaimed Disobedient Objects exhibition.

Tom Sachs is a sculptor, probably best known for his elaborate dub-versions of various Modern icons, all of them masterpieces of engineering and design of one kind or another. A lot has been made of the conceptual underpinnings of these sculptures: how Sachs samples capitalist culture: remixing, dubbing and spitting it back out again, so that the results are transformed and transforming. Equally, if not more important, is his total embrace of “showing his work.” All the steps that led up to the end result are always on display. This means that nothing Sachs makes is ever finished. Like any good engineering project, everything can always be stripped down, stripped out, redesigned and improved.





Upon receiving his MFA at Alfred University in 2009, Schmidt worked for four years as a Professor of Ceramic Design at the Alfred/ CAFA Ceramic Design for Industry program at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. While there he co-founded the design team Recycled China whose work was recently acquired by the Korea Ceramic Foundation and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Paul Scott is an artist, gardener, author and educator known for characteristic contemporary transferwares. His artworks can be found in many collections and public spaces around the globe, including the V&A in London, Museum of Art and Design in New York, Newark, Carnegie, Chipstone and other art museums in the USA.

Adam Shiverdecker is an artist and educator. He has taught at Tyler School of Art, The University of West Florida, The University of Toledo and San José State University, where he is currently Assistant Professor of Spatial Art. He has held artist residencies at multiple institutions, including the Tyler School of Art, The Archie Bray Foundation, and Greenwich House Pottery. Adam was awarded an Emerging Artist by the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts in 2014 and Ceramics Monthly in 2010. While in graduate school at the University of South Carolina, he worked as an artists’ assistant at FuLe International Ceramic Art Museum (FLICAM) in Fuping, China and was a Visiting Researcher at Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. Adam lives and works in Berkeley, California.

Schmidt’s public collections include the Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche; Faenza, Italy, and The Daum Museum of Contemporary Art; Sedalia, Missouri. He currently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary 3-D Studio and Digital Fabrication in the College of Arts and Architecture at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

He was awarded a PhD from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2011, and is currently Professor 2 at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHIO), Norway. His latest book, Horizon, Transferware and Contemporary Ceramics, was published by Arnoldsche Art Publishers in January 2015. In September 2015 he received an Alturas Foundation artists award for his project New American Scenery.




Anthony Stellaccio was born in Muncie, Indiana in 1978. He earned his MFA degree in fine art and folklore and is active as both an artist and scholar. Stellaccio has conducted fieldwork in Eastern Europe, having lectured and published extensively on Lithuanian ceramics. He also writes on contemporary, international ceramics, and is a frequent contributor to Ceramics Monthly and Ceramics: Arts and Perception. Stellaccio has worked for museums such as the Lithuanian Art Museum and the Smithsonian, National Museum of African Art, enjoying a career both in and out of the studio, and in and out of the United States.

Brendan LS Tang was born in Dublin, Ireland of Trinidadian parents and is a naturalized citizen of Canada. He earned his formal art education on both Canadian coasts and the American Midwest, where he learned to appreciate the ceramic medium. Tang has exhibited and lectured at numerous academic institutions and museums across North America and Europe, and his professional practice has also taken him to India, Trinidad and Japan. He has been a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts (Helena, Montana), Medalta (Medicine Hat, Alberta and the European Ceramic Work Centre (‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands).

Born in Charlestown, South Carolina. Raised in South Central Los Angeles. Tool’s work is heavily influenced by his Marine Corps service during the 1991 Gulf War and his return to the civilian world. Peace is the only adequate war memorial. For Tool the cup is the correct scale to talk about war, hand to hand. He works primarily with the cup, has made and given away over 17,000 since 2001, and has also mailed cups to corporate and political leaders. He received his BFA from the University of Southern California in 2000 and his MFA in 2005 from the University of California at Berkeley; where he now works and sometimes teaches. Tool is a 2010 United States Artists Berman Bloch Fellow. Tool lives in Berkeley with his wife and son. ENGAGED IN CHANGE

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A graduate of Kansas City Art Institute, Joey Watson was born and raised in the Sonoran Desert. The visual splendor of the arid region, mountains carved over time by erosion and the unique plant and animal life continue to color his vision. In 2014 he was the recipient of the NCECA Regina Brown Undergraduate Student Fellowship and a McKeown Special Projects Award from the Kansas City Art Institute. Watson has been a studio resident at Charlotte Street Foundation. He writes, “the scent of wet earth in the desert after a rainstorm is unlike anywhere else; it drew me in as a young child and I would dig in it every opportunity I had.” Watson attributes childhood experiences with the natural environment, particularly the saturated desert dirt, as pivotal in his inclination to work with clay.

Dustin Yager’s installation and functional work deals with popular perceptions of pottery, taste, class, and all that goes along with it. His work has been exhibited in Minneapolis, Chicago, and nationally, and he has given presentations about his work and academic research at Pecha Kucha Chicago, the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, The Soap Factory, and The American Craft Council. Yager earned his MFA in visual and critical studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and holds a BA from Carleton College. He is originally from Wyoming.




Catherine L. Futter is the Director, Curatorial Affairs at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, overseeing the curatorial, conservation and collections management departments. Catherine has overseen permanent collection reinstallation projects, curated contemporary art, design and architecture exhibitions and co-curated a major international loan traveling exhibition, Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at World’s Fairs, 1851-1939.

Leigh Taylor Mickelson is the Executive Director at Clay Art Center, in Port Chester, New York and was formerly on staff as the Program Director. In 2006, she moved to New York from Baltimore, Maryland where she was the Exhibitions Director for Baltimore Clayworks for nine years. In her eighteen year career as an arts administrator and curator, she has curated and organized dozens of ceramic exhibitions for galleries and organizations across the United States, and in 2013 joined the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts board as their Exhibitions Director. In 1995, she received her Masters in fine arts, ceramic sculpture from Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Crafts. Mickelson has had several articles published in various publications and catalogs, has taught ceramics and workshops across the east coast and exhibits her own work widely across the nation.

Catherine has been critical in bringing contemporary artists into the Nelson-Atkins program with celebrated and innovative exhibitions such as Forever, an installation by Clare Twomey in 2010.


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Produced by the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts concurrently with its 50th annual conference, Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change is an exhibition of new works in clay, developed in cooperation with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

ISBN 978-1-935046-64-6

9 781935 046646

5 3 0 0 0

Profile for NCECA

Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change  

We are delighted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NCECA with the 2016 Invitational Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change – an experienc...

Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change  

We are delighted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NCECA with the 2016 Invitational Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change – an experienc...

Profile for nceca