From the Editor: May 2020

First, I want to say that I hope everyone is safe and healthy, and that the same is true of your loved ones. The entire staff is thinking of all of our fellow members of the ceramics community during these difficult times. Our hearts are with those of you who have lost loved ones, have family members who are sick, are isolated, and who are experiencing emotional strain and extremely difficult financial challenges as the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We all know there are many hurdles—from the financial and societal to the time needed to master a craft—to becoming an artist and continuing to pursue a creative career. In times like this, that fact is even more apparent. Despite this, emerging artists, whom we define as those working in the medium professionally for 10 years or less, continue to push ahead, investigating various aspects of the field to produce work that stems from their distinct perspectives. In this issue, we are excited to share the work of 20 such artists from a variety of backgrounds and regions who were selected as our 2020 Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artists. 

You might be wondering how we narrowed down the over 300 entries we received for the competition to the 20 finalists whose pots, sculptures, and installations grace the following pages. The physical process involves looking at all of the entries online, ranking them, then printing out the semifinalists’ images and looking at and discussing them as a group. When evaluating the artists’ submissions in each phase, we use the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated quality and understanding of craftsmanship
  • Ability to absorb and integrate various sources into a singular, identifiable voice that pushes beyond the original inspiration
  • Ability to communicate ideas effectively
  • Relevancy of work within the context of the contemporary ceramics field
  • Ability to document objects, installations, or performances with high-quality images that are high resolution, are fully in focus, have an accurate color balance and contrast, use appropriate lighting, are shot from an angle that provides maximum information about each piece, and have neutral backgrounds that do not distract from the work (with the exception of installation, performance, or sculpture meant to be seen in a specific setting) 

Taylor Sijan’s teapot, wheel-thrown and altered porcelain, underglaze, Pete’s Best Moving Clear glaze, fired to cone 6 in an electric kiln. For more information on the glaze Sijan used on this teapot, as well as those used by other artists featured in this issue, visit CeramicRecipes.org.

After much debate and thoughtful conversation, the editorial staff selected the finalists presented in this issue. We hope that the ceramic objects and installations created by these emerging artists, as well as their perspectives on their work and our field will engage and inspire you. If you entered the competition but were not selected this year, we encourage you to apply to our September issue readership-wide contest, and apply to the Emerging Artist competition again next year.

And, importantly, in the days ahead, when you can’t find solid footing due to the constantly changing reality we are all experiencing, keep creativity in the foreground of what you do. If you are unable to go to the studio right now, sketch; reflect on your practice; write down ideas for how to further your explorations; make some paper templates, maquettes, and models; plan group video chats with other artists; share ideas and support on social media; and if you can, take some time to experiment and play. Consider your creativity as a gift to yourself, and to others. Use it as a comfort, an outlet, a way to face and to process the emotions brought on by the unprecedented situation we are all facing.

- Jessica Knapp, Editor

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