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nature

David Hicks: Nucleus / Cross MacKenzie Gallery, Washington DC

David Hicks: Nucleus at Cross MacKenzie Gallery, Washington DC

David Hicks: Nucleus / Cross MacKenzie Gallery, Washington DC
January 10 - February 28, 2014

Cross MacKenzie Gallery is pleased to present “Nucleus” an exhibition of new ceramic sculpture by the prolific and compelling California based artist, David Hicks. This is his third solo show at our gallery.

“I am still digging in the dirt to understand my attraction to the agricultural,” the artist says of this new body of work. Though Hicks continues in these botanic and organic themes, his compositions have opened up and become less dense – no longer hanging down with the force of gravity from vertical wires. The new work is metaphorically blossoming. His array of gourd-like shapes of various textures, hues and dimensions are now suspended from a metal armature fixed to the wall, projecting outward like sconces, flower-like, hovering in space. 

In her 2013 review of Hicks’ 2011 exhibition, “Farewell” at our gallery for Ceramic Art and Perception, Janet Koplos described Hicks’ sculpture; “the works are wonderfully sensuous abstractions (as all pottery can be) and are especially appealing for both color and texture”.

Every element is unique and unfamiliar, inhabiting a place in one’s imagination between associations: at once a cantaloupe or pear, then a beached bouy, an insect pod, a bird’s nest or an exotic dirt encrusted seed. Koplos describes the density of Hicks’ previous work; “But the numbers, the depth of accumulation and the softly worn surfaces hint that they have been retired and frugally held in reserve. It is a library of objects”. Though the artist still draws from that library, the new presentation is more precious, now demanding examination and appreciation for the individual elements rather than focusing the viewer’s attention on the clustered mass. The ceramic forms are one-by-one lovingly harnessed into fitted brackets, more akin to diamond settings now than the sinkers on fishing lines of the past. Even with the artist’s fresh approach and careful selection, his paring down on the amount of objects in the sculptures, Hicks is far from being a minimalist. His wall pieces continue the artist’s themes of nature’s abundance and excess, the forces of bearing fruit and multiplying.

The sense of planting seeds is even more obvious in the two pedestal pieces in the show that sit tree-like with a central weighted stalk, branching out with the ceramic forms perched on and suspended from the metal limbs. We are tempted with the tactile rawness, to pick the heavy fruit before it drops.

David Hicks received his B.F.A. from California State University, Long Beach, CA. and his M.F.A. from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. His work is in several prominent collections including the World Ceramic Museum, Icheon, Korea, the American Museum of Ceramic Art–AMOCO, Pomona CA, the American Embassy in Figi through the State Department’s, Art in Embassies program and the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe, AZ. He lives and works in Visalia CA. with his wife and new baby daughter.

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  • Gail Nichols: Atmosphere / Narek Galleries, Tanja, Australia

    Gail Nichols: Atmosphere exhibition Nerek Galleries Tanja

    Gail Nichols: Atmosphere / Narek Galleries, Tanja, NSW, Australia
    January 10 - February 24, 2014

    Opening reception: Saturday, January 11, 6 pm.

    Earth, air, fire and water are the essential elements in Gail Nichols’ vessels, both figuratively and metaphorically. The infinite landscape surrounding her home and studio at the base of Mt. Budawang near Braidwood not only inspires her strong, wheel thrown forms, it also provides the atmosphere that affects the soda vapour glaze firings. Moist air and damp earth will create a different firing result to days of low humidity.

    A bowl filled with air and light and described by its own materiality, may have an irregular rim reflecting the undulating horizon and a luscious glaze of glassy celadon or shadowy grey mauve or rich, thick cream and molten soft browns tinged with fiery orange clay at the base. These glazes are created by swirling soda vapours in the firing process reacting with elements deep within the clay and each pot is placed in the kiln so that intended surfaces will occur.

    Nichols’ control of kiln atmosphere has been gained over years of extensive research, leading to a PhD at Monash University in 2002. Her book, Soda Clay and Fire, published by the American Ceramic Society, is a leading text in the field. Her work is represented in Australian and international collections including the National Gallery of Australia.

    Gallery hours: Friday to Monday, 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM, and by appointment.

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  • Anne Tophøj and Marianne Nielsen: Elitist Folklore / Copenhagen Ceramics

    Anne Tophøj and Marianne Nielsen: Elitist Folklore exhibition Copenhagen Ceramics

    Anne Tophøj and Marianne Nielsen: Elitist Folklore / Copenhagen Ceramics
    October 25 – November 17, 2012

    Artist talk: Saturday, October 27, at 2 pm.

    The dish, the plate, the table and the flower. These common everyday objects and the most beloved iconic shapes from nature are framing in the lives of most people. For their shared exhibition at Copenhagen Ceramics Marianne Nielsen and Anne Tophøj are investigating why and how we value these universal expressions of culture and nature. But what is elitist folklore? What does it look like from their point of view?

    Marianne Nielsen occupies a very special position in Danish Ceramics. She takes interest, in an almost nerdy way, in the role of nature in our culture. In recent years her work often has concluded in definite renderings of natural subjects: mountains, feathers, leaves and now flowers and plants. As a kind of souvenir they refer to something beyond ourselves, being continuous, universal and something which, through its authenticity, contains an essential beauty. Yet, the representations of nature are about ourselves, since they only acquire their meaning through our very own gaze.

    Marianne Nielsen articulates this: ’Flowers hold a modest position in the arts as something banal, soft, often assigned the subordinate part. For these pieces I have let the flower be on its own, allowing it to make up the entire work. The works are about what is not directly present – the references linked to flowers, both as representatives of beauty and natural souvenirs. But they also deal with that particular application that has worn down the flower-motif and turned it into a cliché.’

    In a similar way Anne Tophøj is working with the values and inherent meanings of things. Either because the artifacts contain specific images or symbols that pass on a story or message, or by suggesting a particular use or way of handling.

    Characteristic of her work she investigates the dish and the plate, objects that we are all very familiar with and make daily use of. As she herself puts it:The plate and the dish are signs of human culture and how we raise ourselves above the animals; they are pivotal in all eating rituals and our daily meals. Artefacts that we all have in common – universal, banal, indispensable tools helping us to sustain life. They are beloved and treasured objects that different cultures and times have shaped endlessly for use and for ornamentation, for the table and for the wall.”

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  • Carol Gouthro: Anthozoa gouthroii “Viridis”, 2012, Terrecotta clay with underglazes and glazes, 6”h. x 10.5”w .x  6.5”d


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

  • Elizabeth Shriver: Large Floral Pod, alternative view, 2011

  • Anat Shiftan: Stilled Life / Vessels Gallery, Boston, USA

    Anat Shiftan: Stilled Life exhibition at Vessels Gallery, Boston

    Anat Shiftan: Stilled Life / Vessels Gallery, Boston, USA
    May 4 – May 27, 2012

    Vessels Gallery is pleased to present Stilled Life, a solo exhibition of the new ceramic work of Anat Shiftan. Born in Israel, and with a degree from Hebrew University in English Literature and Philosophy, Shiftan received her MFA in Ceramics from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and Design. In 2003, the artist joined the faculty at the State University of New York at New Paltz, School of Fine and Performing Arts, where she finds teaching essential to her creative process. She has participated in group exhibitions both nationally and internationally and was featured in the 3rd, 4th and 5th Biennale for Israeli Ceramicsas well as in the 4th Annual Jingdezhen Contemporary International Ceramics Exhibition, in Jingdezhen, China.

    Shiftan is philosophically absorbed by nature and itsre-creation in art. She writes, “Looking at nature is a springboard for my artistic expression…” She is drawn in by the beauty of nature, the fluctuation between its symmetry and imbalance, its order and disarray. More importantly, however, she has become fascinated by the “packaging” of this nature as an art object throughout history. Shiftan is captivated by the human engagement with nature,by man’s desire to artistically capture what has been seen, andfinally by the process of doing it. This conversion from outside to inside, is just as much part of the subject matter as the clay itself.The artist works primarily in porcelain, and her pieces are markedly delicate and alluring, sometimes with sharp edges and coarse surfaces which may invite the viewer to look but not to touch.

    Stilled Life continues Shiftan’s exploration of this dual role: nature in its own setting and nature domesticated. In her own words: “I contemplate the role of nature in artistic history, and I wonder if it is at all accessible to us today as a reality.”

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  • Steve Belz

    Steve Belz Ceramics - Featured ceramic artist

    Steve Belz's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View his works

    “The environment is in a delicate balance between well-being and decline. For a healthy society, we must be responsive to the fact that all of our activities affect the Earth. My sculptures express the beauty of nature and the tension created by man’s manipulation of our environment. I use the beauty of form to increase the viewer’s emotional connection with nature. This connection to nature can expand one person’s, and ultimately our society’s compassion for the natural world.

    Historically we have manipulated plants by gathering seeds, grafting limbs, and controlling pollination of plants with traits we find favorable. These qualities were gradually developed over countless generations. What is different about our more recent modification of plants is the far-reaching selection of traits from organisms that would not be accessible without genetic engineering. For instance, splicing a fish gene with a strawberry to make the strawberry more resistant to cold could not occur if not for techniques developed by scientists. This kind of manipulation is dramatically different from our prior system of plant selection and has potentially profound effects on the Earth.

    I use manufactured elements in my work to create a tension meant to bring about a consciousness within the viewer, to open a dialogue about contemporary society’s association with nature. This discussion can raise awareness of the danger that our current situation poses. A lack of responsibility and stewardship for the Earth creates many problems for the planet, among them degradation of our basic life support systems, as reflected in the loss of biodiversity, increased toxicity of our food systems, inefficient use of natural resources and global climate change. I hope that my art will encourage viewers to educate themselves and become increasingly proactive in assuring a sustainable future.” Steve Belz

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  • Interview with Kathy Pallie - New artist, January 2012

    Interview with ceramic artist Kathy Pallie - New artist, January 2012

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    → The full interview with Kathy Pallie will be featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two.

    Ceramics Now Magazine
    : When and how did you discover the passion for ceramics?

    Kathy Pallie: Growing up, I was always the artsy-craftsy one, making things out of all different kinds of materials, using lots of different techniques. I loved going to my Dad’s office in New York City where they produced display products/props used in retail store windows and interior displays. To me, it was a magical, fantasy industry.
    Though I never had art classes in high school, I decided that art would be my major in college. As a first year art student, I was introduced to clay. I immediately loved the tactile sense of working with clay and creating 3-dimensional objects.

    My interest in clay took a back seat to advertising design which was my major within the art curriculum. This was followed by a very exciting career in commercial art designing decorative and functional display products for the retail stores, exhibit world and point-of-purchase industries. Most of these products were 3-dimensional, large scale and fabricated from a variety of materials. It was always exciting and challenging to work with materials that had totally different commercial uses and to create products from them that were applicable to the display field. Much of this was done in foreign countries working with cottage industries, sometimes sitting on the ground outdoors with chickens and roosters strutting by.  

    Years later, when I retired and put my hands back into clay, I realized that this was a material that really excited and intrigued me, and one I had to explore in depth. I was hooked! My “clay play days” took over. Now instead of designing products that had to be marketable or meet a client’s design criteria, this was just me, the clay, and the creative process and didn’t need anyone else’s approval. I played with clay with a childlike approach, investigating, experimenting, and learning, as much and as fast as I could.  

    Kathy Pallie Ceramics

    The 4 Elements – Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, Earthenware, glazes, 18”H x 14” Diameter, 2011 - View Kathy Pallie’s works

    Tell us more about your creative process. Where do you get inspiration from and how do you find the journey towards the final outcome?

    My inspiration comes from just living and observing and being receptive to what is going on around me. I’ve always been inspired by the unlimited variety of textures, patterns, and energy found in nature. I love to be outdoors skiing, hiking, swimming, watching the changing light patterns from dawn to sunset, seeing flowers bloom and leaves unfurl. I’ll often take photos for reference, pick up pieces of bark to experience the sensation of the surface texture, and closely observe different patterns and details. I interpret my reaction to these things in clay. Though many of my artworks have a trompe l’oeil effect, I am not trying to mimic Nature. Rather, I try to bring the essence of what I have experienced in the outdoors into interior spaces.

    Once in the studio, the clay often seems to have a life of its own as it leads me, morphing from one form and concept to another. On other occasions, I can envision the completed piece before even touching the clay.

    — The full interview will be featured in Ceramics Now Magazine - Issue Two.

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  • DisGRAZIE by Bertozzi & Casoni, FaMa Gallery, Verona

    DisGRAZIE exhibition by Bertozzi & Casoni, FaMa Gallery

    DisGRAZIE by Bertozzi & Casoni, FaMa Gallery, Verona
    1 October - 12 November 2011

    Opening: Friday 30 September, hours 18.00-21.00

    On 30th September 2011, from 6pm, FaMa Gallery in Verona holds the opening of the exhibition DisGRAZIE (DisGrace), an original exhibition project by Bertozzi & Casoni, who for the very first time will present a collection of new works investigating the relationship between art and nature and the expressive potential of matter in its multiple plastic and aesthetic meanings.
    Through an experimental and conceptual reading of ceramic, a practice which has marked the research of the artists since 1980, the exhibition has two main sections:
    The first consists of sods of earth containing different kinds of sedimentation, including waste and human and animal remains. These groups – where what we usually desire to remove has been buried -, are the humus prolifero from which sprout amazingly beautiful floral microcosms. The second section includes compressions of discarded waste recovered from the “rubbish dump” of the contemporary consumer society (tins, cans and scrap metal); from these heaps of waste emerge succulent plants, waterproof and robust enough to survive attack from the waste and to give it new vigour.

    For the DisGrazie project at the FaMa Gallery, Bertozzi & Casoni “forge” an evocative and surreal setting in order to reveal the contradictions and chaos of postmodern life, addressing the recurring theme of vanitas with a unique, exuberant exhibition. All with the help of ceramic, a material that is fragile yet everlasting, which the artists manipulate in hybrid and polymorphous expressive ways with the strong desire to promote osmosis between art and life and to immortalise the transience of existence.

    Notes on the artists:
    Bertozzi & Casoni is a general partnership founded in 1980 in Imola. For thirty years artists have devoted themselves exclusively to ceramic as a possibility for painted sculpture, but in the second half of the 1990s a more conceptual aspect emerged in their work which would stimulate, towards the year 2000, a great turning point: Bertozzi & Casoni abandon the use of majolica to favour the use of ceramic materials of industrial origin. In 2004 they are invited to exhibit at the Tate in Liverpool (A Secret History of Clay) and in 2005 at the XIV Quadriennale in Rome. In 2007 they exhibit at Cà Pesaro, International Gallery of Modern Art in Venice, in 2008 at the Sforza Castle in Milan, in 2009 at the Italian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale, in 2010 at AVA All Visual Arts in London (Vanitas. The transience of Earthly Pleasures), at the Sperone Westwater Gallery in New York (Interval), at the Sperone Gallery in Sent and at the Arnaldo Pomodoro Foundation in Milan (Italian sculpture in the 21st century). In 2011 they exhibit at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Ajaccio (Réflection sur la mort) and are once again invited to the Italian Pavilion of the Venice Biennale.

    FaMa Gallery
    Corso Cavour 25/27, 37121 Verona
    Tel. +39 045 8030985
    Fax +39 045 8011410
    info@famagallery.com
    www.famagallery.com

  • Bethany Krull

    Bethany Krull's profile on Ceramics Now Magazine - View her works

    “My current work, a series called, “Dominance and Affection” revolves around the exploration of this duality as it can be seen in the relationship that exists between humans and the rest of the natural world. In today’s increasingly nature deprived society our most intimate connection tends to be with plants and animals that we ourselves have drastically altered through the process of domestication. We have turned wild animals into docile and sweet natured pets as we have selected for tameness helping the animal to evolve in a manner that has been most beneficial to us. We have removed these creatures from the wild to give us unconditional love and eliminate our loneliness, to amuse us, and to assist us in our day to day activities, but this comes at the expense of their own freedom to exist in their natural environment. Cats in today’s society, more often then not, live entire lives with their feet never once touching grass as they chase catnip infused fabric mice and sleep in sunlit windowsills while the birds chattering outside remain just beyond their grasp.
    Although strong love and a desire to protect are at the heart of this captivity, the practice of keeping animals strictly indoors surely has its physical and psychological detriments. Dogs, a species which exhibits amazing variety have been shaped by humans to custom fit our specific needs whether it be herding cattle or sniffing out bombs in a crowded airport. It’s amazing to think that the drastic visual disparity between the Chihuahua and the Great Dane is due entirely to human intervention and selective breeding. Monkey’s are taken from their mothers, diapered and given a surrogate which is usually a stuffed animal to cling to for maternal comfort in the terrifying transition from jungle to cage. Fighting crickets in some societies have been so revered that, upon their deaths, have had elaborate and lavish funeral ceremonies in their honor. However, they are fought in much the same ways that cocks have been fought, often to the death of the loser. It is this reverence existing side by side with complete control that I am interested in illustrating in my work. For no amount of love and affection lavished upon these creatures will erase the fact that the success of the relationship lies in our complete domination over all aspects of their existence.” Bethany Krull

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  • Barbara Fehrs: Yellow Pitcher (back view)

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