From the Editor: September 2020

A Transformative Time

This is a complex, difficult, and important time to be an artist. Globally, humanity is reckoning with paradigm shifts in response to both the COVID-19 crisis and the need to address and dismantle systemic, structural racism. The circumstances are complex culturally and personally, difficult emotionally and financially, and important individually and collectively. Art is a powerful tool in overwhelming times. It helps both viewers as well as the artists themselves to understand the world, create meaning, process our lived experiences, express the full spectrum of emotions we experience, build empathy, connect as individuals, redefine the way we see one another, and effect change.

The Ceramics Monthly editorial staff is currently evaluating how to improve our coverage of the field and of underrepresented artists who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). Inclusivity and sharing the perspectives of a diverse group of artists has long been a guiding principle for the magazine, and we keep the following in mind as we acquire content: age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and cultural and professional background, as well as differences in mental and physical abilities. Nevertheless, we recognize that we can do better.

We are actively educating ourselves, evaluating our processes, widening the scope of our research into innovative artists, and engaging new voices to participate in writing articles. We hold ourselves accountable to moving forward with the goal of increasing representation of and participation by BIPOC artists in the magazine. We will continue to do the necessary work in our discussions and consultations with individuals and groups in the field to be anti-racist, equitable, and inclusive.

The articles included in this issue stem from research and conversations started in 2019 through spring 2020 with both freelance writers and individual artists. The stories on the following pages focus on artists who have used earthenware or red clay to develop a strong body of work and an individual voice that merits recognition, and who have not yet been covered extensively in the magazine. We hope you enjoy the insightful articles on Osa Atoe, Theo Uliano, Suzanne Wolfe, and the production processes of a family business, Jagmohan Mfg. Wholesaler and Retailers. David F. Mack shares his personal exploration to learn more about the 18th-century Black potters David Drake and Hiram Wilson, as well as their legacies today. Articles by Kara Leigh Ford and Jack Troy touch on the effects of COVID-19 on marketing and firing work, not to mention in-person camaraderie between artists.

The diversity of work we see every day, including the 300+ annual readership contest submissions (see Harmony and Contrast) motivates and inspires us. It also reminds us just how vibrant and vast the field of ceramic art is.

The pages in each issue of Ceramics Monthly represent the culmination of a collaborative process. We welcome you to contribute your voice to the conversation about our ever-growing field. Please send your article proposals to editorial@ceramicsmonthly.org.

Ultimately, this magazine is for and about artists and their art. It is also made with artists, who generously share their varied experiences, ideas, struggles, and processes.

Jonathan Christensen Caballero’s powerful, well-crafted, sculptures (see cover) seamlessly combine ceramics and mixed media. The figures’ stances and facial expressions, along with a deft use of color and pattern, convey emotion and explore concepts of personal and cultural identity and experience. He describes his work in the following way (included with the artist’s permission): “My art is based on my personal identity, which was formed both by watching my parents support the family through labor jobs as well as by my mother, who emigrated from Panama. The personal is political and I feel a moral imperative to create art that critiques the oppression of Latin American laborers in the United States. My figures give representation to people who contribute to society at the cost of their physical bodies. For this reason, my sculpture is rooted in Latin American identity and socioeconomic status. My artwork is able to narrate enduring questions of identity through the use of the human figure, pre-Columbian iconography, and mixed-media sculpture. The figurative sculpture I make is driven by questions of inclusion versus exclusion. Who benefits from the American dream? Who is allowed representation, visibility, and to feel a sense of belonging? Why is the Latin American community forced to remain invisible and to always be perceived as the outsider? My figurative sculpture critiques the oppression of Latin American laborers in this country and advocates for my community’s representation by revealing both the plight of the proletariat as well as the resilience of immigrants.” Photo: Jeremy Hogan.

- Jessica Knapp, Editor

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