The Clay Seminars 2022 – A series of webinars on contemporary ceramics
This month, NYU and University of Westminster’s Ceramics Research Centre will co-host a series of free webinars on contemporary ceramics.
The Clay Seminars invite key thinkers and practitioners in the arts to reflect in a series of June seminars based on provocations that are directed to examine this moment in clay practice, from both curatorial and artistic perspectives.
In the four Fridays of June we will be gathering to present and discuss global views on this material, how we engage, embody, include and present this material in 2022. We are inviting a broad gathering of artists, curators and arts organisations at all stages of their practices to join us and share in the conversation.
Each of the Zoom webinars will last one hour and will be recorded to watch afterwards as well. Registration is free.
1. Why clay? Why now?
Clay Seminar No 1. June 9, 2022
Time: 11am NY / 4pm London
Speakers: Susan Cross > MASS MoCA USA, Dr Jareh Das > Independent Curator, Sequoia Miller > Gardiner Museum CA
Facilitator: Clare Twomey
There’s much more humanity to clay than in other art forms, where you think first, and then you apply. Clay allows you to immerse yourself and to think with it—thinking and making are synchronised – Magdalene Odundo.
In recent years, clay has seen a global recognition as a material for curators and artists to examine their practices at a rate unprecedent in the previous decades. Artists and curators who work with clay simultaneously connect their work to the complexities of material and social histories. Over the past three decades, art production moved from analogue to digital, however, there has been a recent resurgence of interest in clay that transcends artforms, and which indicates a new global recognition of this material’s urgent grasp on us. Clay articulately identifies with our common causes and our histories that are relevant and overwhelming at this moment in 2022.
In this seminar the three invited speakers will reflect on this question of Why clay? Why now? They have all had significant roles in the curation of this material moment in 2021/22.
2. Fragments and Dissonance
Clay Seminar No 2. June 10, 2022
Time: 11am NY / 4pm London
Speakers: Rose B Simpson > Artist , Ramekon O’Arwisters > Artist, Kahlil Irving > Artist
Facilitator: Linda Sormin
Fragments disrupt notions of wholeness, they are not ideal. A shard is a glitch in the system showing fracture, the loss of function, a process gone awry. Experiencing the world through fragments is characteristic of the diasporic experience. Un-homed, out of context, and perpetually reaching back to their origins, fragments might be what is left unsaid, a half-remembered line from a folk song, or historic fact. The sharp edge of memory offers the potential to be incisive – it might cut through the status quo.
Dissonance is productive friction. Inviting discord and dissent, dissonance in ceramics drives artists to confront our emotions, and to question stories we are told about clay objects and how they should behave. To sustain and explore a note out of place, to remain in a state of unresolved tension, deepens the act of listening. In collaborative work, the counterpoint to fragmentation/dissonance is a collective intention.
In this seminar, the three invited speakers will reflect on Fragments and Dissonance in their practices.
3. Context and Belonging
Clay Seminar No 3. June 23, 2022
Time: 10am NY/ 3pm London
Speakers: Neha Kudchadkar > Artist, Dr Samuel Nortey > Artist & Academic, Nia Gautama > Artist
Facilitator: Tessa Peters
The medium of clay has a particularly long global history of wide creative and cultural significance. But as low-cost, industrially produced objects have replaced many kinds of formerly hand-made ceramic objects in most people’s lives, what kinds of ceramics are now being made in different parts of the world? Who makes them and what impacts the conditions of their creation? What can we learn from sharing the experiences and examples of our individual localities?
The three invited speakers will reflect on the issues affecting the current moment and future of ceramic art and craft in their global region. The seminar not only aims to explore some of the approaches and ambitions of a range of clay practices, but hopes to identify synergies for future cross-border exchanges.
4. What is the Artwork?
Clay Seminar No 4. June 24, 2022
Time: 11am NY / 4pm London
Speakers: Cassils > Artist , Catherine Roche > PhD Researcher , Matt Smith > Artist
Facilitator: Christie Brown & Phoebe Cummings
Does the art object or event exist as an artwork in its own right or is it only complete or valid when it connects with the viewer and becomes, to quote artist Clare Twomey, a material catalyst for something else. A cultural provocation?
Is it the role of the artwork to provoke and challenge or empathise and sooth?
What role does the gallery, museum or institution play in encouraging a connection or dialogue between the artwork and the audience? What role does the audience play in completing or amplifying the artwork? What agency does the material also have in the work?
This seminar will focus on the experience of the viewer as they encounter an artwork, whether that be a discrete object, a performance or a moving image. The invited three invited speakers will reflect on these questions and consider the ways in which the lives of the audience can be enriched by this interaction.