Planning the program for Milwaukee

Planning the program for Milwaukee

Although we just said our goodbyes in Houston, in just a few short weeks, your NCECA board will be meeting in Milwaukee to plan the programming for next year’s conference.  While this year is still fresh in your mind, please take a moment to think about the programming you would like to see next year.  We are looking for suggestions for Keynote, Distinguished & Closing Lecture, Randall Session, Dance Band, Demonstrators, and panel presentation ideas.  If you have suggestions, feel free to comment here.  Or maybe you’d be willing to share your own expertise with us and be a presenter in Milwaukee yourself!  Click here to learn more and to submit a proposal.  Deadline is May 1st!


Image: Milwaukee Art Museum at night

A Student Perspective: Critiques, Creators, and Crazy Dancing.

A Student Perspective: Critiques, Creators, and Crazy Dancing.

NCECA: A Student Perspective, Day 2
Duncan Blount

I wish I had an NCECA pause button! Yesterday was nonstop meeting/learning/seeing/experiencing/wowing.  Here are some of this student’s favorite moments, that maybe you can revisit today:

Student Critique

The student critique was incredibly helpful! My critique was with a potter named Brian and he took a look at some of my salt-fired work. It was interesting to consider consistency in my mugs; my handles take on a thin wildness that the smooth, symmetrical lip seems to contradict. After talking to Brian, I walked away seeing my mugs in a whole new light. If you’re a student, definitely go see if they have any open slots. After these sorts of insights, I’m so ready to get back to the studio, but also I never want to leave!

Ryan McKerley’s Water Carving

Ryan McKerley was such a trip! Along with a pristine description of Houston’s place in the history of rap music, Ryan did some impressive water-carving. We saw him create his famous lifted geometric shapes on bone-dry porcelain with a clever mix of tools and techniques. Incredibly entertaining, and I can’t wait to attempt it when I get back to the studio!


Installation pieces

Jess Riva, a former peer of my current professor Sarah Gross, authored the first of five installation works in the gallery expo area. Her piece had a chronological flow, in which a complex series of PVC pipe began to bloom a kind of coral the further down the piece I  went. It spoke to me about how we as humans both take from nature and force it into these lifeless forms, as well as how the natural world can reclaim the spaces we stole from it.

Another installation piece that especially struck me was the interactive forest floor area. Among the depiction of a dead tree, viewers are invited to place clay additions to the forest habitat. The life that sprung from this exhibit was profound, and was reminiscent of last year’s Key Note Speaker Mark Dion, who created a lively habitat around a dying redwood tree. But what really got me was how I could influence the work; I was able to get my hands into some clay! See if you can find my salamander crawling up the side of the tree trunk!

Definitely investigate these installations, they’re all amazing!

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NCECA National Student Juried Exhibition

It was both intimidating and inspiring to see the Student Exhibit. So many of the works captured my attention and had me staring. Because of all the other students there, I remember constant talking about what the pieces meant, and how they made us feel; it’s like we all wanted to do what we could to grasp and approach the level of their work. I felt some amazing energy in there. Here’s some pictures of my favorite works at the exhibit, and definitely consider going to check out the next generation of ceramicists!!

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Potter’s Jam

I danced pretty hardcore at one point last night. One might probably prefer to call it flailing and flopping, but I’m pretty sure it was to the right tempo. I’m not the best dancer, but it’s NCECA! I couldn’t help it! There were so many lovely people; how could I be embarrassed? I met David Lee, who brought a horn that he had wheel thrown (Whhattt???) and he played that one note like a champ. The musicians were completely compelling, and had the crowd either tapping their feet or dancing. What a fun event, and I can’t wait for the dance tonight (I might just break out my insane dance moves again)!

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Be sure to follow my instagram for more pictures – @Siftedsunlight

NCECA: A Student Perspective, Day 1

NCECA: A Student Perspective, Day 1

Student Perspective Day 1,
Duncan Blount
What an amazing first day! This is my second NCECA, and I came all the way from Berea College, Kentucky. Here are some of my incredible highlights from today:

The First Purchase!

After registration, I sat down with some other members at a small table not too far away. We all dug into our NCECA bags like it was Christmas, and then dove into our program schedules. I circled the events for the day (last year I was frantically running around everywhere with no plan), and headed to the Gallery Expo.

After gawking at the initial displays, I made my way over to the Artstream Nomadic Gallery, easy to identify with their classic metal trailer. I learned from the salesman there that much of the work was fresh from the kiln, and that he’d helped unload Lisa Orr’s mugs the day before. I knew then that it was the time select the mug that I’d been saving up for, but so many choices! I narrowed it down to two: Tara Wilson (left) and Josh DeWeese (Right). I ended up going with Wilson’s, and I love it!


Gallery Expo Ventures

While recovering from my post-mug-purchase daze, I bumped into Speedball’s demonstrator Jeffery Blandford. He was throwing with metallic clay that he explained had trace amounts of coal in it. Jeff also showed some impressive pinky skills (see picture)!

Then I got to listen to Linda Swanson present her work and processes. She discussed movement in her pieces, like one glass bowl with bentonite and water, which moves like a cloud and transforms over time. She also discussed the embracement of techniques which are usually seen as mistakes, purposely shaping the cracks and bubbles in creative ways. Now that I think about it, that’s such a motto for life: Master the mistakes!

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Cup Sale

It’s the first day at the cup sale and the amazing cups and mugs are beginning to accumulate! I love the cupsale; it allows members to leave a part their work and theirselves for the organization and for the NCECA community. I wish could put a little camera in my mug to see who pics mine up! For this year’s cup sale, I brought a salt-fired porcelain mug – keep your eye out for it!



Hidenseeka is more than just a clever play on words, it’s a brilliant event where instagram-savvy NCECA members follow clues to pottery hidden near the conference center. Ever since I heard about this event, I’ve obsessed about being one of the lucky people to find a pot. And it happened!! I had to dive through some bushes to snag it, but around lunch time I saw the clue, and spotted a small jar behind a statue. It’s an Alex Watson lidded jar, and it will hold my sugar forever <3.

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Antoni and Bowers

One of my favorite parts of NCECA’s process is their inclusion of different disciplines. To refuel the inspiration of our ceramic art, branching out to unknown territory can be wildly refreshing. Watching Keynote Speaker Janine Antoni speak about her work with such confidence and articulation was truly inspiring, and really made me think. Such powerful symbols! And watching Bill Bower’s performance was breathtaking. I didn’t think I would become so emotional, but the fact that it was based on true experiences, and so passionately described, had a surprisingly powerful impact on me. What a great way to begin the conference!

And be sure to follow my instagram for more pictures! – @Siftedsunlight

Talk on Sylvia Risman Hyman in Past Masters on Thursday

Talk on Sylvia Risman Hyman in Past Masters on Thursday

I was pleased and honored to be invited to present a talk on Sylvia Hyman as part of the Past Masters series on Thursday from 12:30 to 1:30. Sylvia died on December 23 at the age of 95 and I have gathered wonderful stories from her family and friends, and great imagery from John Cummings, her good friend and photographer for many years. Sylvia was amazing – spry, smart, and inquisitive right up to her last days, and certainly an inspiration for all artists, especially those entering the “twilight years.” Some people think they’re in the twilight years at 65, but at that age Sylvia was just beginning her best work and had three more decades of vibrant, productive life ahead of her. Everything you see in the images below is fired clay.  If you have any questions about this presentation, please email me at or stop by the Appalachian Center for Craft table in the Resource Hall. – Vince Pitelka

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Hyman, Sylvia, Buy Mad 25 Cents Cheap, 2003 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Hyman, Sylvia, Noah and the Flood, 2003 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Hyman, Sylvia, Alfred E Newman Etruscan Ossuary