During the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference in Kansas City, Missouri, we were lucky enough to see work by some of this year’s Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artists (p. 49) in person in the “Archie Bray Foundation Resident & Visiting Artists” exhibition at the Belger Crane Yard Studios. Jeni Hansen Gard’s cups, wheel-thrown and assembled porcelain, glaze, fired to cone 10 in oxidation, 2015–16.
The editorial staff returned from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conference in Kansas City, Missouri, a little over a week ago. We had the chance to talk to lots of people who are involved in all aspects of the field. We also visited various exhibitions in Kansas City, where we saw hundreds of different pots, sculptures, and installations representing singular approaches and explorations in just about every genre or tradition in ceramics.
We also recognized work made by a number of artists who had entered the magazine’s Emerging Artist contest as well as by a few of the finalists we had selected for inclusion in this issue (see below). While I couldn’t touch the pieces—which is always a difficult rule for ceramic artists to adhere to—I could get really close to see the nuances in the surfaces and forms, note scale relationships, and observe people excitedly pointing out what they admired about the pieces. The work in the exhibitions, like the conversations we had throughout that week, emphasized the diverse perspectives in the field today.
I experienced the same sense of inspiration and boundless creative possibility when looking through the Emerging Artist contest entries both before and after our trip. The level of sophistication in the techniques and expression of ideas impressed all of us. When I think back to what I was making after an equivalent number of years spent with my hands in clay, the experience was more than a bit humbling, too, but in the best possible way. It made me realize that the speed with which information and techniques can be shared today on so many platforms, combined with ceramic artists’ overwhelming generosity, has helped these artists to advance their work in incredible ways.
Many of these artists are expressing ideas that go beyond communicating one point of view. Carrying forward one of the best aspects of our field—an interest in how the objects we make function for and with others—they are interested in exploring the fascinating possibilities of community-constructed meanings.
Many of the ideas shared with us and topics discussed during those conversations and excursions to see exhibitions at NCECA, as well as the observations we made while reviewing this year’s Emerging Artist contest submissions will help us plan future issues. We would also like to hear feedback about the magazine from those of you who either didn’t attend the NCECA conference or didn’t get a chance to visit with us at the booth. Please send me an email, or get in touch via social media.
Lauren Smith’s vase, teapot, and mug, wheel-thrown and altered porcelain, glaze, fired to cone 10 in oxidation. Gunyoung Kim’s Share-able, 17½ in. (44 cm) in height, handbuilt earthenware, terra sigillata, underglaze, glaze, fired to cone 01, luster, 2015.