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Contemporary craft

Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics / Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh

Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics at Contemporary Craft

Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics / Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh
April 25 - November 1, 2014

The Transformation series, one of the Society for Contemporary Craft’s signature programs, was established in 1997 as a biennial juried exhibition focusing on traditional craft media–glass, wood, metal, clay, and found materials–in rotation. The exhibition seeks out an international selection of artists redefining their medium to create work that is challenging and thought provoking; inviting us all to reconsider our notion of “craft.”

This year’s focus is on clay. Clay has been used, decorated, coveted, and collected for thousands of years, yet in the hands of contemporary artists this irresistible medium continues to surprise through innovative techniques, forms, and functions. Visitors are invited to see what happens when makers push the boundaries of time-honored craft materials—right before our eyes, something old is new again.

In conjunction with each Transformation exhibition, the jurors award the participating artist whose work best displays the tenets of excellence and innovation the Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize. Named in honor of SCC’s founder, the award is accompanied by a $5000 cash prize.

Transformation 9: Contemporary Works in Ceramics features the work of all 31 of the Raphael Prize finalists, a selection of internationally recognized and emerging artists. The exhibition highlights outstanding and innovative examples of contemporary works in clay, all of which have been created within the last year. The work of three regional artists—Chuck Johnson of Venango, PA, Erica Nickol of Pittsburgh, PA, and Ian Thomas of Slippery Rock, PA—is included in the exhibition.

Linda Swanson of Montreal, Quebec has been selected as the winner of the Society for Contemporary Craft’s (SCC) 2013 Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize competition. Two honorable mention honorees, Lauren Gallaspy of Salt Lake City, UT and Lee Somers of Montevallo, AL, and one merit recipient, Lauren Mabry of Philadelphia, PA, were also announced at the exhibition opening on April 25, 2014.

Swanson’s winning entry, Cypreus Lumen, 2013, is a 20 inch round wall disk made from crystalline glazed porcelain with a painted aluminum rim. The turquoise glaze looks almost liquid with the faintest ripple of movement on the surface. A patch of deep red disrupts the calm in a dynamic swirl of motion. “Processes of change, formation, and dissolution are caught in this crystalline glazed surface,” says Swanson of the piece. “A flow of molten colorants in an optically ambivalent and luminous frozen moment recalls geology as well as biology, and elicits material affinities between the body and the world around us.”

Linda Swanson Ceramics - 2013 Raphael Prize Winner

As the 2013 Raphael Prize winner, Swanson shows several other ceramic works in Transformation 9, each exploring the changing nature of matter. A site-specific installation similar to her piece Osmogenesis (recently seen at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, MN) was installed in SCC’s main gallery throughout the run of the exhibition. Combining the slow and steady drip of water onto a clay-covered steel surface, the piece is constantly changing. As the water burrows through the clay, the underlying metal surface is exposed in a collection of bubbling craters. Swanson describes the piece as exploring the “interdependence of organism and environment, as well as organism and organism – in which one species is created, or at least sustained, by and through another.”

Born in Los Angeles, CA, Swanson received her B.A. in Art History from University of California Santa Barbara, her B.F.A. in Ceramics from California State University, and her M.F.A. in Ceramics from the School of Art and Design at Alfred University, Alfred, NY. Currently, she lives in Montreal, Canada where she is an Assistant Professor at Concordia University. Swanson’s ceramics have been exhibited in SOFA Chicago with the Lacoste Gallery, Elemental at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, and INFESTATION, a public art installation at the Parcs Canada Lachine Canal Historic Site in Montreal. In 2013, Swanson was named an Emerging Artist by NCECA, the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.

An honorable mention award was given to Lauren Gallaspy for her piece, Giving Up the Ghost, 2014. The startling 16” tall sculpture combines soft, feminine lines with a mass of ceramics shards and strips. Gallaspy received her M.F.A. in Ceramics from Alfred University and has been named a NCECA Emerging Artist. She describes her work as being “about imbalance—the vulnerability of living things— and the sometimes violent, sometimes pleasurable, almost always complex consequences that occur when bodies and objects in the world come into contact with one another.”

A second honorable mention award was presented to Lee Sommers for his work, Scape IV, 2014. Having also received his M.F.A. in Ceramics from Alfred University, his work has been exhibited throughout the United States and China. Known for his distinctive ceramic collages, Sommers explains his process as “a coupling of fleeting notions and physical realities. Collage is a key strategy in both the physical and conceptual organization of my work. Drawing from a variety of sources, ongoing acts of sampling, collecting and cataloging, leads to a critical mass of components. Weaving a matrix of relations between these parts, I find compositional epiphanies - parallels to aesthetic experiences etched in my memory.”

Additionally, the jurors gave a merit award to Lauren Mabry for her piece, Curved Plane, 2013. The artist, a M.F.A. graduate from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, describes her work as “painterly, abstract, ceramic sculpture.”

Lauren Mabry Ceramics at Transformation 9

The jury for the 2013 prize was composed of Joshua Green, Executive Director of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts; Jae Won Lee, a Korean American ceramic artist and Associate Professor at Michigan State University; Alexandra Raphael, enamel artist, London, England; Catherine Raphael, metalsmith and storyteller, Pittsburgh, PA; Kate Lydon, Director of Exhibitions at SCC; and Janet McCall, Executive Director at SCC.

“This prize honors artists who are redefining the boundaries of their media to create work that is challenging and thought-provoking. The strength and recognition of this competition has grown over the past 17 years and continues to challenge our viewers understanding of craft today,” said McCall.

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  • InCiteful Clay / Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, USA

    InCiteful Clay at Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock

    InCiteful Clay / Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, USA
    April 4 - June 29, 2014

    The Arkansas Arts Center, the state’s leader in international, visual and performing arts, presents the exhibition, InCiteful Clay, on view April 4 - June 29, in the Winthrop Rockefeller Gallery.

    “This exhibition of brilliantly expressive ceramics offers extraordinary insight into the artists’ creative imaginations,” said Arkansas Arts Center chief curator and curator of contemporary craft Brian Lang. “Each work in the exhibition tells a unique and compelling narrative and illustrates the diversity and limitless potential of the clay medium.”

    Artists have long used their creations as powerful vehicles to confront current and major societal issues, moving beyond paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs to installations and electronic media over the last century. Social concern has also become an area of increasing interest in contemporary craft.

    For more than fifty years, the Arkansas Arts Center has been a leader in collecting and exhibiting contemporary craft. InCiteful Clay continues this tradition and is a follow-up to the landmark exhibition, Confrontational Clay: The Artist as Social Critic, which was also presented by the Arkansas Arts Center in 2000. This national travelling exhibition offers an unparalleled overview of an emergent movement in contemporary ceramics dedicated to social commentary.

    Incorporating a broad range of work, InCiteful Clay includes approximately 35 ceramic sculptures by artists who utilize a millennia-old medium to create provocative critiques of contemporary social, political, cultural and environmental issues. The exhibition is organized around five themes: war and politics; the social and human condition; gender issues; environmental concerns; and popular and material culture. The artists have conveyed their messages in styles that are aggressive, violent, disturbing, irreverent, and at times, humorous, but all the while ever passionate. They rely on figurative imagery, narrative content, and a range of expressive avenues, including caricature, parody, satire, obscenity, erotica and the grotesque.

    Featured artists in the exhibition include: Toby Buonagurio, Nuala Creed, Michelle Erickson, Richard Notkin, Anne Potter, Richard Shaw, Akio Takamori, Ehren Tool, Patti Warashina and Paula Winokur, among others. Among the specific topics they address are: the social consequences of war, the impact of declining moral values on children, capital punishment, consumerism and global warming.

    Traditionally, ceramics have served functional and decorative purposes and have been associated with positive experiences. Visitors to this exhibition will come away with a new appreciation for the expressive capabilities of clay media to convey substantive content and to deliver the powerful critiques more routinely seen in painting and sculpture.

    InCiteful Clay is organized and circulated by ExhibitsUSA, a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, with the Arkansas Arts Council and The National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibition is curated by Judith S. Schwartz, Ph.D., an internationally recognized specialist in contemporary ceramics. A professor and director of craft media in the Department of Art and Art Professions, New York University (New York, New York), Schwartz recently published a groundbreaking study of this movement within ceramic art, Confrontational Ceramics: The Artist as Social Critic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).

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  • Dark Light: The Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse / Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

    Dark Light, Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

    Dark Light: The Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse / Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston
    February 7 – May 11, 2014

    Opening Reception: Friday, February 7, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
    5:30 - Artist Talk by Adrian Esparza
    6:00 - Artist Talk by Christine Nofchissey McHorse

    The opening will also feature Spectra by Adrian Esparza in the Front Gallery. Open studios by current resident artists to follow talks. 

    In Dark Light: The Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) presents works by one of the most innovative contemporary forces in Native American pottery.  Working from traditional materials and techniques, Christine Nofchissey McHorse’s vessel-based art blends the boundaries of pottery and sculpture, erasing the line between function and form. As the Navajo artist’s first traveling exhibition, the show exhibits the unadorned sophistication of the sultry curves, black satiny surfaces, and modern forms of her Dark Light series, created from 1997 to present. An amalgam of Puebloan, Navajo, and contemporary influences, each sculpture possesses a cultural splendor that is as fertile as the Northern New Mexico riverbeds where McHorse harvests her clay.

    Through the unadulterated beauty of micaceous clay and with Puebloan construction techniques learned from her Taos mother-in-law, McHorse transforms her sketches into voluminous shapes that swell upwards like a natural spring. Dismissing the rudimentary forms that define Native American ethnic identity in craft, she returns to primordial shapes, akin to the modern aesthetic of Henri Moore. Experimenting with shape, mass, volume, and line, she creates organic vessels in the vein of her ancestors, who recognized the spiritual power of water, air, and earth.

    To complement her natural forms, McHorse gives each piece its own unique skin by pushing the boundaries of a raw material. Traditionally used for cookware and valued for its structural integrity, micaceous clay permits McHorse to build thin-walled structures that can withstand high temperatures, yielding a black satiny finish. The darkness of the fired clay provides a dramatic contrast to the tiny bits of reflective mica, glistening as light dances across each piece. Using light gradation as her palette, McHorse controls the presence of light by creating differently textured surfaces that either catch or reflect the light.  When combined with the elegance of each sculpture’s form, the element of light in McHorse’s works renders a captivating visual experience.

    Born in Morenci, AZ, in 1948, Christine Nofchissey McHorse is a first generation, full-blooded Navajo ceramic artist. After marrying Joel McHorse, a Taos Pueblo Indian, she learned to make pots through his grandmother, Lena Archuleta, who taught her to work with micaceous clay, a rare but naturally occurring clay high in mica content that can be found in the Taos area. McHorse has since become one of the most admired and successful Native potters, working with traditional techniques but making the kind of reductive, sculptural pots that one would have expected Brancusi to make, were he alive today.

    From 1963 – 1968, McHorse studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM, where her studio is now located.  She has received numerous awards from the SWAIA Indian Market, Santa Fe, and the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial, Gallup, as well as the Museum of Northern Arizona. Her works are in the collections of the Denver Museum of Natural History, the Museum of New Mexico, the National Museum of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution, the Navajo Nation Museum, and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art. McHorse also has the unique distinction of winning Best in Show for both pottery and sculpture at the annual Santa Fe Indian Market.

    Dark Light: The Micaceous Ceramics of Christine Nofchissey McHorse is organized by The Ceramic Arts Foundation, New York, NY, and curated by Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio.

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  • Carol Gouthro: Anthozoa gouthroii “Chromatella”, 2012, Terrecotta clay with underglazes and glazes, 6”h. x 10”w .x  6”d

  • Craft Spoken Here / Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Craft Spoken Here exhibition at Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA

    Craft Spoken Here / Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA
    May 5 - August 12, 2012

    Crafts were prominent among the first works of art to enter the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art when it was founded in 1876, and the Museum has continued to collect and exhibit crafts. Today, thanks in large part to the Women’s Committee and gifts from individuals, the Museum is particularly well-known for its holdings of twentieth-and twenty-first-century American, European, and Asian craft.

    With Craft Spoken Here, the Museum seizes the opportunity to experiment with its collection and to understand craft in an international context. Some forty contemporary works from 1960 to the present in ceramic, glass, metal, wood, lacquer, paper, and fiber—some by living, acclaimed artists and others by lesser-known creators—are on view. Representing the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe, the works highlight formal qualities that cross cultures, time, and media.

    Craft Spoken Here features an array of engaging education programs and interpretive materials, including on-site artist demonstrations and hands-on craftmaking activities for the public.

    The exhibition is divided into three sections. Essential Element looks at continuing importance of line—the graphic gesture—as an expressive and compositional element in the work of artists. Rebecca Medel’s The One (1985) uses a network of lines to form a dense cube of knotted cotton and linen threads, dark on its fringes and progressively lighter towards the center, which creates the illusion of a luminous sphere floating in an atmospheric haze. The second section, Shape Shifting, includes works in clay, glass, wood, metal, paper, and fiber materials that have been fashioned into sculptural forms. Motoko Maio’s Kotodama (2008) is a folding screen in silk and linen that can be adjusted to divide a room, provide privacy, or rest decoratively in a corner. The final section is Gesture, which includes works that offer visual and emotional cues, such as the chaotic, seemingly uncontrollable framework of Jessica Jane Julius’s Static (c. 2008), in which hundreds of black glass flameworked threads combine in a sculptural evocation of the artist’s reoccurring dream.

    Curator
    Elisabeth Agro, The Nancy M. McNeil Associate Curator of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts and Decorative Arts

    The exhibition is made possible by The Leonard and Norma Klorfine Foundation Fund for Modern and Contemporary Craft. Additional support is provided by the Windgate Charitable Foundation and the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In-kind support is provided courtesy of Lion Brand Yarn.

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