After our seasonal pause in the monthly magazine cycle (each summer’s combined June/July/August issue), the September issue is finally here! Heading into fall with extra oomph, this issue is jointly themed around porcelain and Ceramics Monthly’s annual contest. 

The editorial staff reviewed hundreds of submissions to select 19 pieces as finalists to present in Sensorial, this year’s readership-wide contest. In addition to criteria like originality of concept, craftsmanship, and image quality, we kept the idea of the senses top of mind: how does a given piece engage the viewer’s sense of touch, taste, smell, sight, or sound? As you’ll see, clay can evoke each sense (or more than one at a time) in innovative ways through functional works that compel use and sculptural pieces that are activated by the viewer. 

Perhaps the most immediate of the senses to be engaged by clay is touch. Several works draw out this quality through hyper-tactile texture. Use of non-traditional materials like fibers and cold finishes heightens the presumed feel of some objects beyond the expected malleability of clay captured in ceramic. Others still prompt touch through their implied functionality. 

Taste and smell go hand in hand when considering pottery in particular—does a vessel call to mind a certain meal or indicate specificity of use? The sense of sight is explored in works whose surfaces vibrate with pattern, saturated color, or repetitive perforation. 

1 Miyu Kurihara and Yuta Segawa’s painted pots, to 2⅜ in. (6 cm) in height, glazed porcelain, 2022. Photo: Miyu Kurihara.

Sound becomes a factor for pieces that are performance based or interactive. Vitrified clay tapping together makes a sound that is typically unwelcome in the gallery setting, so harnessing that distinctly ceramic clink! to elicit interest is especially effective. 

In addition to the contest, this issue features a number of artists who opt to work with porcelain or are influenced by its traditions: Mark Goudy’s wave-inspired, slip-cast porcelain sculptures (see 2); Miyu Kurihara’s hand-painted porcelain vessels and collaborative series of miniatures with Yuta Segawa (see 1); Chloë Dowds’ experimentation with porcelain in its raw and stained forms; and several of the artists discussed in Lilianne Milgrom’s review of “More Clay” at the Katzen Arts Center at American University, Washington, DC, who build with and manipulate porcelain in volume. 

2 Mark Goudy’s Origami Open-form Series Objects (#1329 and #1342), to 12 in. (30 cm) in height, slip-cast unglazed porcelain, soluble metal salts (gold and cobalt), fired in oxidation to 2167°F (1186°C), wet sanded, 2022.

When you read through the pages that follow, I hope you find inspiration and intrigue. What strikes me in considering the varied content that relates to both topics is the current of curiosity that runs through each article. Artists who grant a view into their practices describe what piques their interest in working with their chosen clay bodies, subject matter, and processes. My own curiosity as a viewer is sparked by images of work in the contest and then caught to appreciate more generally all that’s happening in contemporary ceramics. Enjoy! 

Katie Reaver, Interim Editor
Topics: Ceramic Artists