Shartle Symposium - Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Saturday, March 03, 2012
1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Shifting Paradigms in Contemporary Ceramics: The Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection.
Welcome and Opening Remarks
- Cindi Strauss, MFAH assistant director, programming; curator, modern and contemporary decorative arts and design; organizing curator of the exhibition
- Garth Clark, scholar, gallerist, and collector
Is the 20th-century ceramics movement over? In the 21st century, is ceramics a fully accepted fine-arts material but no longer an autonomous discipline? If so, is this a good thing? Garth Clark examines a turning point in this millennia-old medium.
On Conscripting Mugs and Other Ceramics into Life’s Battles for Independence
- Ezra Shales, associate professor of art history, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University
In the field of ceramics, a distinction is often made between “functional” objects and “art” objects—a binary opposition that is both reductive and misleading. Ezra Shales critiques the validity of the term “functional” and investigates how drinking vessels remain key tools in the assertion of one’s identity.
The Well-Wrought Urn
- Jenni Sorkin, assistant professor, contemporary art and critical studies, School of Art, University of Houston
This talk reconsiders Garth Clark’s groundbreaking exhibition American Ceramics, 1876 to the Present against the backdrop of mid-20th-century formalism, in particular Cleanth Brooks’s The Well-Wrought Urn (1947), Herbert Read’s criticism on modern sculpture, and the Syracuse Annuals exhibition series.
From Postmodernism to Postindustrialism
- Jorunn Veiteberg, professor of curatorial studies and craft theory, Bergen National Academy of the Arts, Norway
A re-evaluation of the decorative and a reuse of historical forms were central to ceramics in the 1980s, the key decade of Postmodernism. But what has happened since? Are contemporary ceramics still Postmodern, or have new paradigmatic shifts taken place?
- Mark Del Vecchio joins the speakers. Moderated by Cindi Strauss.
- The audience is invited to a wine reception with the speakers in the lobby of the Beck Building, and to view the exhibition.
This event is open to the public. Seating is limited. Free with general museum admission. MFAH Members always receive free general admission.
The 36th Annual Ruth K. Shartle Symposium is made possible by The Brown Foundation, Inc.
Inaugurated in 1975 by Alice Pratt Brown (Mrs. George R. Brown), a major benefactor who served 26 terms as a museum trustee, this annual symposium was established in memory of Ruth K. Shartle, a longtime museum benefactor. William C. Agee, former director of the MFAH, described the symposium as a commemoration of Shartle’s “unstinting friendship, her intellectual curiosity and generous spirit of sharing her enthusiasm for man’s creative accomplishment, and most of all, her unselfish, fresh spirit and unfailing joy of life.” Past Shartle Symposia have celebrated important exhibitions such as “Hispanic Art in the United States,” “Basquiat,” and “The Modern West: American Landscapes, 1890–1950”; have explored key areas of the MFAH collections; and have probed issues of connoisseurship, patronage, conservation, and museum architecture.
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Above: Kukuli Velarde, We, the Colonized Ones, from the series Isichapuitu, 1997–2001, ceramic and twine, the MFAH, Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio Collection, museum purchase with funds provided by the Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment Fund.