In this time of immense difficulties around the world, we were energized and heartened to see the work of the hundreds of artists who applied to this year’s Ceramics Monthly Emerging Artist contest. Many artists are responding to the overwhelming problems people are facing on a societal as well as an individual level with artwork that helps to share ideas; form a dialog; foster understanding; and provide hope, joy, respite, and comfort.
Our selection process is always lively and challenging, and this year it was even more so with a greater number of artists to consider. Out of more than 560 entries, the editorial staff chose the 23 finalists whose work graces the pages of this issue using the following criteria:
- Active pursuit of a career in ceramics for ten years or less.
- Demonstration of skill in techniques for forming clay, glazing, firing, and any finishing processes. For multimedia works, this includes successfully integrating the materials, so that the handling of all media is at the same level of ability, and the connections between materials are considered and as refined as possible to make a unified whole.
- Demonstration of technical skill and conceptual logic in composition, scale, color, proportion, and other design fundamentals.
- Cohesive presentation of a developed body of work that investigates the artist’s chosen concepts. Unity within variety and a sense of purposeful focus are both important.
- Development and pursuit of an original voice. Ability to successfully synthesize various sources of inspiration, research, and influences to create work that provides an individual perspective and pushes the boundaries of the artist’s chosen mode of expression (sculptural, functional, and installation work, performance, etc.).
- Awareness of current movements and contextually relevant investigations in the wider field of ceramics. For work that looks to historical art forms or ideas for inspiration, clarity on how to combine these ideas cohesively to make work that is relevant to a contemporary audience.
- Success in engaging with viewers. The work should be highly functional in a utilitarian sense, if applicable, and in fostering dialog with and communicating ideas to an audience.
- Clarity of intent as well as an ability to critique the work in order to foster growth.
- Attention to the quality of the images submitted. Images must be high resolution; fully in focus; have an appropriate depth of field and exposure; show the full piece (along with details, when applicable); have a clean, neutral background or one that does not detract from or obscure the piece; and be taken at an angle that does not obscure important information (e.g. a handle or lid should be visible enough to understand its relationship to the whole form).
This issue’s cover, as well as the images below, provide a sneak peek at the works by selected artists. See their individual pages within the feature section of the issue. Join us in celebrating the ways these artists have refined their approaches to working with clay, cultivated creativity at a difficult time, and pushed themselves to explore a wide variety of ideas. Their accomplishments truly enrich our ceramics community.