Galleries and other institutions that showcase ceramics play an important role in their physical communities, as well as the larger ceramics community via their online presence. They help to support artists’ careers by exhibiting, promoting, and selling their work to a wider audience than individuals might be able to access on their own. Staff members at these institutions also engage with and educate community members, sharing information on artists’ ideas, inspiration, and processes. They champion the value of handmade items, explaining not only what goes into making them, but also how they can enrich people’s lives.
As businesses have had to close their doors to the public, reduce the number of visitors in their physical spaces, or otherwise adjust their normal operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, arts institutions have taken different approaches to continue engaging the public with ceramic art. I, for one, am thankful, as their efforts mean that I can still see curated shows despite the restrictions on travel, canceled events, and the loss of face-to-face contact with people in the field.
Galleries have created more video walk-throughs of exhibitions, Zoom and Facebook Live interviews and panels with exhibiting artists, and online gallery talks with the teams that put shows together—from curators and preparators to the artists. Some institutions have organized fundraisers or donated part of all of the their commissions from the sale of work to help artists and to invest in their communities during this time of need. In this way, it is possible to buy art and support important causes at the same time.
To see the innovative ways these arts institutions are sharing artists’ work and helping their communities, visit the websites and social-media pages for some of the galleries and museums found in Ceramics Monthly’s Annual Gallery Guide. We’ve compiled a listing of hundreds of venues that show ceramics, either exclusively or along with artwork in other media. Even if you can’t visit them in person, a virtual visit will be enjoyable, thought-provoking, and inspiring.
The pages of this issue can help you travel to see exhibitions as well. In addition to the pieces shown here (1–3) from an exhibition at Alma’s RVA in Richmond, Virginia, the Exposure section features exhibitions that are on view during the month of October. For a discussion of the concepts in both the art and curation of a recent exhibition, check out Kay Whitney’s review of “Playing with Fire: Ceramics of the Extraordinary” at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Then, see the Spotlight article for a behind-the-scenes discussion of planning a ceramics exhibition at a contemporary jewelry and craft gallery.
Buying handmade ceramics, whether large or small, is one way we can all support the artists and businesses in our field. In the Clay Culture section, David Hiltner, executive director at Red Lodge Clay Center, in Red Lodge, Montana, discusses how his collection began when he was a student. He had the opportunity to travel to Penland School of Craft to work with Will Ruggles and Douglass Rankin, making pots and firing the climbing wood kiln on campus. The Ruggles and Rankin piece he bought is a reminder of that time, of artists he admires, and of what he learned about the importance of living a creative life. From there, and with input from family members, the collection has grown.
1–3 On view through October 31 in the group exhibition “The Color Network Presents: Constructors in Clay” at Alma’s RVA (www.almasrva.com) in Richmond, Virginia.
Many of the pots in my own collection carry these types of memories, too. Using these pots makes daily routines more purposeful and meaningful. I create new connections with the ideas the pots express, think about the people who made them, and reflect on the time in my life when I acquired each one.