In the current climate, inclusivity and working to break down or remove obstacles to participation, expression, and open dialog are more important than ever. Art helps people slow down, feel and express emotions, and connect with one another. That goes for the makers as much as the viewers.
Ceramic artists are known for being generous and welcoming. It’s time we put that generosity and encouragement into overdrive. With the divisiveness we’re experiencing, people need art in their lives as a way to help them understand one another, empathize, acknowledge differences, and find commonalities and mutual respect. I truly believe that as artists, what we do is fundamentally important to society. We speak our truths, share what we value, invite others to share in the experience with us, and add their own perspective. Art is empowering.
This welcoming has to be proactive, and extended both to groups that have not traditionally had the chance to work with clay and to individuals who are artists already, but feel isolated because they don’t yet see people in the field with whom they identify. Expanded diversity feeds creativity, advances independent and collective work, and is one of the keys to the sustained creative health and vitality of our field.
When the editorial staff discussed what our role could be in expanding inclusivity, in terms of who we cover in the magazine, we felt that it was important to keep the following in mind: gender identity, sexual orientation, differences in mental and physical abilities, age, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status/background, and cultural and professional background. Keeping a broad range of experiences and individuals in mind foregrounds the fact that our personal lenses can blind us to unintentional exclusion and to under representation if we are not diligent.
In this issue, we present a wide range of perspectives that we hope will introduce you to new work, while also creating dialog in the field. How do our personal experiences influence what we make and what we draw on for inspiration? How do our specific life circumstances affect how and when we make work? What are the challenges to building a life that includes being an artist? How do we overcome these challenges, and would those solutions work for others?
I encourage you to get in touch with any of the editors if you come across stories that will help to maintain inclusive coverage of the field in future issues of the magazine. We strongly believe that input from many points of view is invaluable. Share your thoughts with us via social media or email.
If you’re attending the NCECA conference in Portland, Oregon, please stop by the booth to share ideas for stories we could cover that promote an increased diversity in the field, your responses to the articles included in this issue, and about your own individual experiences.
**I had the opportunity to meet the Takadas recently at the Columbus College of Art and Design’s winter art fair. I had seen their work earlier, and had ask them to write for us, and in the process, realized we lived in the same city. I don’t often get to meet face to face with the artists we feature in the magazine. It was a great opportunity to see their work first hand, watch customers engage with them and their work, talk shop, and learn a little more about them as individuals. Learn more about their work on pages 57 and 62.