RISE at The Red Lady

RISE at The Red Lady

RISE: Emerging Graduate Ceramics highlights the up and coming talent from the Fort Hays State University graduate ceramics program, including 9 artists. This diverse group of makers exemplifies fine craft, celebrates traditional practice, and contributes to the field through both concept and process driven work. This vast array of styles makes RISE a true showcase of the ceramic work being made by young artists. RISE is hosted by The Red Lady Gallery, right in the heart of Kansas City’s historic West Bottoms. The reception will be held Friday, March 18th from 6pm-8pm. Additional hours are as follows.

March 16th: 9am-5pm
March 17th: 5pm-9pm
March 18th: 6pm-8pm (Reception)
Match 19th: 1pm-5pm (Meet the Artists from 1pm-3pm)

The Red Lady Gallery 1229 1⁄2 Union Ave KCMO 64101

2016 Roundtable discussion: Fueling the Imagination

2016 Roundtable discussion: Fueling the Imagination

NCECA’s 2016 roundtable discussion, Fueling the Imagination: How We Talk/Work/Play Across Our Differences, brings together moderator, Ben Carter with John Borstel, Andrea Gill, Simone Leigh, and Hideo Mabuchi for a conversation about the roles of mindfulness and language in generating of communities of practice. In “Fueling the Imagination” an essay from Liz Lerman’s Hiking the Horizontal, she recounts a conversation with Nobel laureate Dr. Eric Wieschaus.

Wondering about how the scientist asks himself a question, the researcher states, “I am fueled by my own ignorance.” The keen precision of this response helps us understand that artists and scientists share an understanding, Lerman writes, “that not knowing is fuel for the imagination rather than fuel for humiliation.” So much of what we do in our work as artists and educators, takes place in this state of not knowing. Not knowing is what compels us to learn, create, and discover. It is a core attribute of the human condition, yet often we find ourselves devoting so little attention this stage of our process.

One aspect of ceramic history that fascinates many of us is the way that pottery has evolved across geographical and cultural borders. With dynamic fluidity, ideas, forms and motifs initiated in one culture, migrate into others where they become absorbed, reconstituted, and sometimes reinvented. Holding a piece of decorated pottery in one’s hands can inspire us to detective work that traces qualities back to their origins. We ask ourselves questions— where did this come from? what did it mean then? what does it mean now in this new context? We accept that while objects are concrete, the ideas, purposes, and meanings they embody, like a glaze held at melting point, remain in a constant state of flux.

The roundtable discussion that takes place on the morning following the keynote lecture is a  recent programming development that builds on NCECA’s great tradition of crossing borders of inquiry. The roundtable experience provides a public forum to air responses, reflect on ideas, and pose questions evoked during the previous evening’s keynote lecture. The forum’s format engages people with different disciplinary backgrounds to share how their perspectives influence what they heard, how it interested them, and what opportunities and challenges are embodied in the ideas expressed. Perhaps such a discussion could also help others, who were present for the keynote and roundtable, to consider some essential questions and take-aways to discuss over the remaining days of the conference and beyond.

ben carterWhile some of our 2016 roundtable participants are well known to the NCECA community, others may not be, which is intentional by design.  Moderator Ben Carter’s is the mellifluous and thoughtful voice of the popular clay podcast, Tales of a Red Clay Rambler. He is a studio potter, workshop leader, and social media enthusiast based in Santa Cruz, CA. Ben received his BFA  in ceramics/painting from Appalachian State University, and his MFA in ceramics from the University of Florida. From 2010-2012 he served as the Education Director of the Pottery Workshop in Shanghai, China.

gill_studioAndrea Gill is a ceramic artist and professor of ceramic art at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in Alfred, New York. She earned a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1971, studied at the Kansas City Art Institute from 1972-73, and completed her MFA at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1976. Gill has been awarded fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships, the National Endowment for the Arts, and an award from the Louis Comfort Tiffany foundation in 2003.

simone leighSimone Leigh is an artist engaged in object-based, on-going exploration of black female subjectivity. She currently teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her sculpture, videos and  installations are informed by her interest in African art, ethnographic research, feminism and performance. Leigh was a facilitator of the 2012 International Art Programme at the Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, Nigeria. Recent and upcoming exhibitions include solos shows at the Kitchen and Tilton Gallery in New York, NY and group exhibitions at Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, SculptureCenter in New York, Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, L’Appartement22 in Rabbat, Morocco, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the AVA Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa. Her work has been featured in such publications as Modern Painters, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Small AxE, Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art and EBONY Magazine.

Hideo-Mabuchi-by-IreneHideo Mabuchi received his A.B. in Physics from Princeton University (1992) and Ph.D. in Physics from the California Institute of Technology (1998). In 2000 at the age of 29, he was named a MacArthur Fellow in recognition of studies that provide an experimental vehicle for exploring how thermodynamic processes mask quantum behavior, and how their interaction might be harnessed for important practical uses.  After teaching at CalTech, Mabuchi moved to Stanford University as Professor of Applied Physics in 2007, where he has served as Chair of the Applied Physics Department since September 2010. In recent years Mabuchi has developed substantial new engagements in ceramic art and science. His studio practice focuses on thrown functional forms for atmospheric firings; he has been studying Japanese ceramic traditions, American studio ceramics, and craft theory; he is intrigued by the complex relationships among art, craft, science, design and engineering.  He is beginning to explore the use of modern analytic techniques such as laser spectroscopy and electron microscopy to understand microscopic processes involved in the creation of wood-fired ceramic surfaces.

John Borstel- Head of a Camel: Parlor Games

John Borstel- Head of a Camel: Parlor Games

An artist working at the crossroads of photography, performance, and text, John Borstel is an independent consultant following a 20 year career in programming and development for Dance Exchange, a nationally-touring contemporary dance company founded by Liz Lerman. He is co-author and illustrator of Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process and has traveled widely to teach and facilitate this unique feedback system, which emphasizes the values of dialogue and active involvement by the artist. His mother was a fiber artist and his father an editor; both parents were writers. He traces his artistic practice back to their influence and to the dress-up games he played as a child.

Projects Space 2016: Makers, Mentors, and Milestones Find Their Way into Wet Clay

Projects Space 2016: Makers, Mentors, and Milestones Find Their Way into Wet Clay

Does looking at all of the awe-inspiring pottery, sculpture, and installation art at NCECA just make your hands crave the touch of clay? If so, one exhibition you shouldn’t miss this year is Projects Space! This year’s artists will all be working with wet clay, and two of the projects are interactive. If you need to get dirty, we’ve got you covered.

If you aren’t familiar with Projects Space, it is a venue that features experimental, performative, and time-based installations. The artists work onsite to develop their projects over the span of the conference. Each time you walk by Projects Space, you will notice that the work has shifted, changed, or expanded. While some artists create interactive experiences that involve the viewer, others take a more meditative approach in the building and assembling of their work. Either way, the artists will be present for the duration of the conference, and the audience is invited to observe and interact with the artists.

Glenda Mural 2

Design for Mural

Thematically, each piece addresses the conference theme in some way. In the Glenda Taylor Active Memorial Mural by Alexis Gregg and Tanner Coleman, participants will be invited to contribute to a mural honoring Glenda Taylor, a generous spirit, talented maker, and mentor whose life was cut short last summer. Besides being a respected ceramic artist and educator, Glenda was an avid cyclist. The mural will incorporate abstracted landscape imagery inspired by Glenda’s home state of Kansas, and participants will be invited to make their mark with text and bicycle-themed texture. The finished mural will be permanently installed on the campus of Washburn University.

Through his large-scale sculpture and installation, En Iwamura investigates the relationships between people and places and the ever-shifting perception of comfortable space between them. In his Projects Space proposal, En humorously describes himself as “human scale ant.” With insect-like determination, En will be marking milestones hour by hour in wet clay as he coils organic, architectural forms. As each layer of clay appears, it will create records of different moments as he works and responds to both the space and the material. The audience can watch En’s large wet clay installation meditatively unfold for the duration of the conference.

Lastly, Brian Kluge will create an ephemeral installation that allows the audience to create work of art in homage to influential makers and mentors in their own lives. I recently got this enthusiastic message from Brian about his project:

“Although the Project Space installation may not be the largest [in] physical scale that I’ve attempted, it will certainly have the largest number of participants and the most specific audience. As a result I’ve been thinking about the potential for this sculpture to make evident some of the connections between us makers. These connections can oftentimes go unnoticed. I am excited to see what emerges as participants add to the project by making small sculptures and placing them upon the unfired clay tile. I can’t wait!”

Check out the artists’ work and news on their websites:




Online Resources for Ceramics, Part 2!

Online Resources for Ceramics, Part 2!

Rabbit hole, am I right? Creating a static online resource page for anything is an impossibility. It would need to be updataed daily.  Instead, we have put together this “list of the moment”, You can check out the first part here and watch for more in the future!   Feel free to leave suggestions for sites to be included in part 3 in the comments below!


American Craft American Craft Council Magazine,dedicated to championing contemporary American craft

Ceramic Artists Now CAN features contemporary ceramic artists

Ceramic Arts Daily tips, tricks, resources, videos, links, forums, and more. Home of Pottery Making Illustrated and Ceramics Monthly, both available digitally

Ceramics.org more technical/ceramics engineering but interesting

Ceramics: Art and Perception quarterly magazine on ceramic art featuring articles, color pictures on every page, functional and sculptural work, useful information on events and reviews

Ceramics Now independent art platform and magazine specialized in contemporary ceramics

Ceramics Today comprehensive independent ceramics site, used to be known as claynet, perhaps you remember it?

CFile global knowledge center for contemporary ceramics and clay

Clay Times ceramic art trends, tools, and techniques for potters worldwide

The Studio Potter quarterly publication on issues in ceramics

Non-Ceramic Publications/Blogs




Recently, there have been articles featured in the New York Times, the Guardian, even the Wall Street Journal!


Consortiums (fancy name for groupings)

Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF+) emergency resources for artists

aid to artisans  creating economic opportunities for crafts people in developing countries around the world

accessCeramics contemporary ceramics image resource

Artaxis curated independent network of artists

ArtesMundi internationally focused art organization

Objective Clay regular articles by 14 artists

Make and Do Canadian ceramic artists unite!

Artist Communities resources that connect artists

Both Artist and Mother the ongoing experiment of being artist and parent

 Pottery Making Info content about making pottery, links to more ceramic blogs, pottery directory, pottery resources

ClayArt Boards old school internet bulletin board style

Musing About Mud calls for entry, emerging artists, technical Tuesdays, job postings, residency opportunities, movie day, Monday morning eye candy- a never ending feed of new information

Useful Sites for Things

Ceramic Recipes organize your recipes online!

Field Guide for Ceramic Artisans  a gold mine of posts put together by University of Montana’s Julia Galloway and her students with interviews from working artists.

Alfred’s Raw Materials Lab thank you, Alfred, for helping me pass Raw Materials

Art Stream Library just click this one

Ceramics Academy Andrew Martin teaching molds and slipcasting

Digitalfire Raw Materials all the raw data on all the raw materials

Ceramics Research Paul Mathieu up in Canada making things happen. His new book, Art of the Future is also available online!

Fun times on Instagram with PotsInAction

Wood Kilns of the World with Simon Levin

Residency, PostBacc, MFA, Employment

many of the above sites have info on these, here are some more

NCECA opportunities

Reflections and Considerations on Residency

Ceramics Today residency list



Residency Unlimited

The Abundant Artist


For an unlimited, updated supply of these resources, try following NCECA on Pinterest!

Asking Good Questions

Asking Good Questions

If you twisted my arm and made me choose, I would probably say that my high school English teacher is the person who taught me critical thinking skills.  Our standard homework assignment was to come up with discussion questions for what we’d read the night before, and she would collect them all to read aloud at the beginning of each class.  She defined “good” questions as those which could not be easily answered by flipping through the text, but instead made you really want to explore the text, comb through for different ways to answer the question.  I’ve been looking over the presentations we have lined up for the Student Perspectives room, and I find myself thinking a lot about what it means to be a learner, someone interested in acquiring not only new skills, but new ideas, and new approaches.

Student Perspectives is a fairly new tradition, and a unique one at that – a space devoted to student presenters, providing them the opportunity to speak publically on a main stage at the NCECA conference.  Since there is no topical focus, everyone has a different approach to this call.  Any given year, you can expect an extremely diverse set of presentations to happen in this room, which provides delightful and fascinating snapshot of changing student interests.  What I find is that as I read through the titles and descriptions for the Student Perspectives lineup, I am also hearing good questions being asked.

Often, these presentations are grounded in the student experience, and showcase the kinds of research opportunities that students are afforded, alongside the kinds of mental wanderings that take place as you’re on the verge of stepping (back) out into the Real World.  unspecified-1But really, these presentations are asking bigger questions about the nature of education itself, questions which shift in and out of focus throughout our lives, and meander like the road less traveled.

In thoughtful contemplation of what it means to be an arts professional, Eleanor Heimbaugh’s ” BEYOND THE PEDESTAL- CONTEMPORARY SOLUTIONS  FOR DISPLAY” asks us, as both students and artists, to look beyond the paint-chipped cube that we borrow at the last minute and to instead consider more elegant approaches to how work should be viewed.   Emily Tani-Winegarden and Liam Hannan’s co-lecture, “A CUP LIBRARY: ENGAGEMENT THROUGH TACTILE OBSERVATION,” (image seen above) details their effort to provide their community with the experience of using a hand-made objects through a physical lending library.  Jake Boggs, who shares his research into building a functional studio from scratch in “WHAT NOW? A POST UNIVERSITY POTTERY PATHWAY PLAN,” asks how to move forward with a life in clay outside of an MFA program; unspecified-1anyone who has ever graduated has found themselves in this exact same position.  Other students are reflecting on the types of educations they’ve received, both in and out of school.  Some presentations are entirely rooted in person experience, such as Rachel Bigley’s “THE ARTIST AND THE APPRENTICE” in which she discusses her time apprenticing for working artists in their studios, and asks us to think about the kind of learning that comes from a lived experience.  The panel entitled “FROM MENTEE TO MENTOR” offers a similar discussion about transitioning from one type of learning to another, as they reflect on what it means to teach as a graduate student instructor and how they have navigated those waters.  unspecified-2For a broader perspective on educational modalities and their impact on how we learn, ” BACK TO THE FUTURE: MAKING POTTERY IN GRADUATE SCHOOL,” offers a view on the  contradictions that can take place in a fast-paced, results-driven academic environment when working with the slow humbleness of functional pottery.

What have I learned, and how did I learn it? How does that fit into what I already know? What do we send forth into the world, and how do we in turn educate and engage the broader audience? What does it mean to be a learner? What are the ideal environments for learning to take place? What is the best way to learn? What do we send forth into the world, and how do we in turn educate and engage the broader audience? 

This year, all of these presentations will be happening on Thursday, in room 3501 C/D (Level 3), and will be well worth your while – they are all of them rooted in good questions.