Keep on Keepin’ On….

Keep on Keepin’ On….

I thought about titling this post “Marvelous Marge” or “Marge the Magnificent”…..both absolutely fitting descriptive titles.  But then I thought “Marge in Charge,” since she announced last year during her closing lecture that she has been “in charge since I was 5″, I’m sorry, I don’t work well in a group, I just always end up in charge”.  (that’s paraphrased). Basically there were a ton of titles I could have picked, but then I thought to myself.  WWMD?  (What would Marge do?) and of course, there was only one choice for the title.  Last year, Marge’s closing lecture was, I think, the presentation that I personally was most looking forward to.  You see, in our great collective family of clay, we often refer trace our lineage by teacher as we would our family through our parents and grandparents.  My teacher was Larry Brow at the Lawrence Arts Center, his teacher was Bunny McBride at the University of Iowa, which makes Bunny my clay grandfather.  And Keith Williams was at school there at the same time, so he’s my uncle, and so on… (it’s actually a fun NCECA game to play, much like 7 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon). But I digress.  Back to Marge….She taught ceramics at Purdue Univeristy with my real life ACTUAL father, so in a way, she’s like “Aunt Marge” to me (though I wasn’t actually BORN when she and dad taught together).  And of course, she’s that super cool aunt who does all the things you want to do and who you just want to grow up and be half as amazing as she is.  It’s no secret, obviously, that I think the world of Marge, and yes, I DO often think to myself “WWMD”.  So why did I wait nearly a year before posting her closing lecture?  Let me explain….

I’m releasing this video now, shortly before we all meet in Portland in much the same way a television show which has been on its long annual break will give you a “last season on….” before the first episode of the new season.  So enjoy reflecting on the magic of Kansas City with Magical Marge’s words of wisdom from the closing of our last conference, and then prepare for Portland and making more memories.

And really people, haven’t you ever heard of saving the best for last?  Thank you Marge, for an amazing closing to our 50th conference.


50 years of NCECA memories

50 years of NCECA memories

NCECA is always a hustle and bustle of so many things to do all happening at once.  Decisions have to be made and it’s hard.  Fortunately, we have technology to help us soften the blow of missing things we really want to see.  For those of you who were unable to stick around after awards for the preview of the 50th anniversary video, here it is.  And stay tuned for information on when preorders will be taken.  The complete documentary will also include some special features from the 50th anniversary conference itself.

Proceeds from the sale of the video will benefit the fund for artistic development.  For now, enjoy this coming attraction trailer, with a focus on mentorship:

Shapers of the Field at Leedy Voulkos

Shapers of the Field at Leedy Voulkos

I found myself holding my breath, eyes wide open, and honestly a bit choked up…completely overwhelmed by the experience of standing amongst about 50 pieces of ceramic art from legends…heroes….icons.

IMG_1841Friday March 5th marked the opening of three blockbuster NCECA shows in one beautiful space.  The Leedy Voulkos Art Center is hosting NCECA’s National Student Juried Exhibition, Its Emerging Artists, and a very special, 50th Anniversary Exhibition, “Shapers of the Field,” a show curated by Peter Held and comprised of work from prominent figures in both our organization’s and our field’s history.

I am fortunate to know and even served on the board with a few of these masters – Marge Levy, Jay Lacouture, Anna Callouri Holcombe, and of course, Keith Williams.  Others I have known for years – Ken Ferguson, Elaine Henry, and Bill Hunt, add in the category of people I have met in recent years at NCECA conferences, and what remained was art from people I was never fortunate enough to meet…I stood inches from a Maria Martinez pot and I marveled at the real life beauty that I had previously only been able to see in two dimensions in the book by Susan Peterson (and oh yes, Susan Peterson…her work is in this show too).  To say this show is breathtaking implies that I was, in fact, able to breathe, which as i stated before, I don’t believe I did, the whole time I was in the room.

IMG_1840In addition to this stunning show of artwork, in the adjacent room, you can see photographs of many of the artists in the show.

Shapers of the Field: NCECA Honors and Fellows represent the vast accomplishments of many leaders in the field that have been bestowed special recognition by NCECA. The exhibition recognizes accomplished artists, educators, and those providing exemplary service to the field. Shapers of the Field reflects the evolution of the ceramic arts over several decades, and includes functional pottery, decorative vessels, and sculpture, incorporating a wide range of technique, concepts, scale, and visual imagery.

Fellows of the Council are individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts and served the Council in significant ways for at least five years. Honorary Members have made an outstanding contribution to the professional development of the ceramic arts field.

Join us in honoring this exceptional individuals at the NCECA reception for this show on Thursday Evening at the Leedy Voulkos Arts Center.

IMG_1842Artists Include: Clayton Bailey, Mary Barringer, Glen Blakley, Joe Bova, Aurore Chabot, Michel Conroy, Val Cushing, Harris Deller, Lenny Dowhie, Mary Jane Edwards, Ken Ferguson, Susan Filley, Leopold Foulem, Don Frith, Susan Harris, Robert Harrison, Dick Hay, Elaine Henry, Wayne Higby, Anna Calluori Holcombe, Curt Hoard, Bill Hunt, Marlene Jack, Jeremy Jernegan, Karen Karnes, Jay Lacouture, Marge Levy, Warren Mackenzie, Don McCance, Richard Notkin, Susan Peterson, Don Reitz, Judith Schwartz, David Shaner, Richard Shaw, Victor Spinski, Jim Melchert, John Stephenson, Susanne Stephenson, Toshiko Takaezu, James Tanner, Robert Turner, Peter Voulkos, Patti Warashina, Bennett Welsh, Keith Williams, Paula Winokur, Robert Winokur.

We are setting the table.. but first, a few appetizers!

We are setting the table.. but first, a few appetizers!

Over the past several weeks we have been working through all of the images, text and stories submitted by NCECA members for the Across the Table, Across the Land exhibition.   While there are several “large” projects included in the exhibition, there are many projects that may typically go unseen or unheard of simply because they were made to connect with individuals and not for a broader audience. The wonderful thing about this exhibition is that it brings to the forefront some of these quieter stories.

Be sure to sign up for the NCECA Bus Tour, NORTH ROUTE on Wednesday to enjoy these incredible projects and much more.


From Fling Hill High School in Oakton, VA,  Jess Rappaport and Olivia Ferrer demonstrate their love and appreciation of their High School teacher, Julia Cardone, as they worked together to create a base for her wedding cake.

FerrerRappaport_CakePlate_Julia Cardone#2

“We feel that our piece explores the way in which ceramics is a tool for connecting the lives of so many. It is an example of how the daily use of ceramic ware allows many artists to be present in the lives of friends, family, and strangers throughout the world, just as we were able to be present at her event through our work.”

FerrerRappaport_Cake Plate_Julia Cardone#1


From Rancho High School in Las Vegas, NV, Yesenia Godoy created “One Cup for All”, designed to bring people together through a shared cup – in this case for her mother and father. 

Godoy_Cup For One Cup for All_Godoy_#2

” I thought, what can physically bring people together? So I created this multi-handled chalice so that it can be easily shared between people, as it is seen here being shared by my mother and father.”


From Pine Crest High school 9th grade student Ishani Singh, who dutifully created this sweet platter for holding oranges to share with her teammates in diving.  We are in love with this photograph! 

Singh_Orange_Ishani Singh_#6-2


We look forward to celebrating our connections to community with NCECA members at La Esquina, in Charlotte Street Foundation!

To celebrate its 50th Anniversary Across the Table, Across the Land, examines how clay connects communities through food. Considering the table as a literal and metaphorical space, this project includes objects, photographs, videos, and associated events during the conference, all drawn from an online archive populated with stories and images of work by NCECA members and K-12 Challenge participants in the US and abroad. Visit and follow acrossthetable2015 on Instagram to view all submissions and to connect with associated exhibition programs taking place during NCECA.


Location: Charlotte Street Foundation, La Esquina Thursday Night Shuttle

1000 W. 25th St, Kansas City, MO 816-994-7730,

Online: and acrossthetable2015 on instagram

Thanks to the Windgate Charitable Foundation for supporting Across the Table, Across the Land.


Across the Table, Across the Land Selections and Updates!

Across the Table, Across the Land Selections and Updates!

An update about Across the Table, Across the Land from Namita Wiggers and Michael Strand:

We spent the week in Portland, camped out in front of a massive amount of uploaded data and images submitted to the Across the Table, Across the Land WebApp (over 500 total responses). Organizing this much information was a challenge we were thrilled to be confronted with – a great problem to have!  Thank you so much to the clay community for responding to this project and sharing your stories about how food, clay and community come together – Across the Table and far beyond.



After four days of sifting, sorting and laughing – we have finalized the exhibition.


Before we share this list we have a quick quiz…


What does a Nacho Mountain, a Backpack Anagram Kiln and Objects for Digestion all have in common?  


They are all part of the the NCECA Across the Table, Across the Land exhibition during the NCECA 50th anniversary conference in Kansas City!


“Wait, whoa….. Did you just say Nacho Mountain?… what the….?? “

YES! we did.

“…Let there be a Nacho Mountain”  –  Mark Cole


Curious?  Love Nachos? Love Clay? Love Parties?

Don’t miss Mark Cole’s unique vision for the perfect party during our opening reception!

Below is the list of  projects selected for the exhibition in a variety of categories.


Adam Chau, Sharing a Meal, 3500 Miles Apart

Mark Cole, Nacho Mountain

Henry James Haver Crissman, Backpack Anagama Kiln

Linda Ganstrom, Fort Hays State University Students, Mighty Mugs and Cupcakes

Shannon Garson, The Handmade Table, Maleny, Queensland, Australia

Nicole Gugliotti, sexually transmitted dis……ease…

Robbie Lobell & Maryon Attwood, The Heartland Table with Studio Potter featuring artists:  Margaret Bohls, Mark Cole, Chandra De Buse, Brice Dyer, Stuart Gair, Meredith Host, Gail Kendall, Brenda Lichman, Robbie Lobell, Kyla Strid

Gwendolyn Yoppollo, Conversation



Linda Ganstrom, Fort Hays State University

Arthur Halvorsen, Instructor, Food for Thought Course, Harvard

Brenda Lichman, Community Arts and Social Practice, Wichita State University

Roberto Lugo, Students of Marlboro College, Course: What You Bring to the Table

Edith Garcia Monnet, California College of the Arts

Erik Scollon, Social Ceramics, California College of the Arts



Lauren Karle, Portion Plates



William Baker with Chef Michael Shortino of FutoButa, Charlotte, NC

Zandra Coelho, Clay Museum, San Joao del-Rei, Brazil

Victoria Dawes and Emilie Taylor, The People’s Pottery Project, Blackpool, England

Macy Dorf with selected works by students from CHSC, A Denver Public School Charter; collaboration with Art Street, and Denver Housing

Amanda Leigh Evans, Objects for Digestion

Ryan Fletcher (Pots in Action, Sweets)

Rob Beishline, Growing Veterans, Whatcom Community College

Ayumi Horie et al, Pots in Action (#piasweets; #piaacrossthetable)

Lauren Karle, Portion Plates

Eva Kwong, 500 Plates Akron Community Dinner, and with Hunter Franks for 500 Plates Project and Noelle Celeste from Edible Cleveland for At the Table

Nick Moen , The Dinners (works by selected participants to be included)

Kathryn Adams, Anja Bartles, Josh Copus, Tina Councell, Victoria Dawes, Elisa Di Feo, David Eichelberger, Ben Elliott, Heather Mae Erickson, Joe Falzone, Geoff Koslow, Joe Kraft, Andrew Massey, Nick Moen, Erin Paradis, Lindsay Rogers, David Swenson, Hayden Wilson, Gwendolyn Yoppolo

Nobuhito Nishigawara, West River Field Lab

Laura O’Quinn with Will Moss, Diane Einsiedler, Documentation of meal

Brent Pafford, Adrienne Lichliter, Lindsey Byrd, Southern Intentions: Prints, Pots & Provisions

Portland Growler Company, Mudshark Studios

Lilith Rockett, with Atera and Leith Restaurants

Aubrey Purdy Rude and Mat Rude, Listening is Loving

Lauren Sandler, Clay’s Nourishment with Skidmore College, Saratoga Bridges, Transitional Services, Center for Discovery, Root N Roost Farm

Jackie Sedlock and Michael Holt; Share, Eat, Sing

Madhvi Subrahmanian, Unspoken Conversations

Jeni Hansen Gard, Cups of Conversation


Amanda Leigh Evans, Objects for Digestion



Ling Chen, Cup for One

Thomas Lowell Edwards, A Forced Conversation

Adam Field, Hide-n-Seekah

Amber Ginsburg with Aaron Hughes, Tea Project

Simon Levin, Fire in China

Kelly Averill Savino with Catherine Hernandez, Toledo Grows

Sioux, aka Joshua Reyes, Respect, a Dinner and Conversation About It

Trevor Youngberg, Kiln Unload and Rib-Off

Magda Gluszek, Ceramics I and II, Northland Pioneer

Forever Pumpkins, Augusta University’s Mad Potters Organization, Tire City Potters, Safe Homes of Augusta

Mudfest Day Clay Relay, Casper Artists’ Guild Members and Natrona County Community Members

Pottery NW, The Salad Bowl

Clay Art Center – Port Chester, NY – Port Chester Melting Pots



Pine Crest School, Fort Lauderdale, FL (K-12 Challenge)



The Red Clay Rambler recording and images Long Beach Art Museum project with Amanda Leigh Evans ,Tony Marsh, Adam Field, Vipoo Srivalasa, Joseph Shuldiner (Submitted by Adam Field)

Garth Johnson, lecture, Agrestic Modern

Cheyanne Rudolph, Lemon-Aider



Rancho High School Ceramics – Las Vegas, NV


Selected works will be on view from the following schools

Cranbrook School, Cranbrook, MI  – Joe Smith

Evanston Township High School, Evanston, IL – Gina Coleman

Flint Hill School, Oakton, VA – Julia Cardone

The Fulton School – Heath, TX – Cheryl Farrens

Green Valley High School, Henderson, NV – Fernando Agreda

Huntingdon Area High School, Huntingdon, PA – Sally Frehn

J.I. Case High School, Racine, WI – Rebecca McGowan

Jupiter High School, Jupiter, FL – Brian Kovachik

Kimball Union Academy, Meriden, NH – Ursula Fries-Herfort

NSU Art Museum Academy – Fort Lauderdale, FL – Lori Gregory

Park Tudor School, Indianapolis, IN – Marlina Koonce

Pine Crest School – Fort Lauderdale, FL – Lori Gregory

Rancho High School, Las Vegas, NV – Cat Traen

St. Joseph’s Academy, St. Louis, MO – Amy Kling

St. Stephens Episopal School – Austin, TX  – Lisa Orr

Spruce Creek High School, Port Orange, FL –Heather Alexander

Trumbull High School, Trumbull, CT – Trevor Youngberg

Trinity Prep School, Winter Park, FL – Dawn Ferguson

Willow Field Elementary, Liverpool, NY – Danielle Ruggiero



Alisa (AL) Holen, Throwing on the Potter’s wheel, Vanderburgh County in Southern Indiana

Southern Illinois University Faculty and Students, Art for Your Table Food for            the Community in collaboration with our Neighborhood Co-op Grocery Store

Free Ceramics, The Friendship Center, Helena MT

Wichita State University with WSU Ceramics Guild, Ulrich Museum of Art WSU Hunger Awareness Initiative, and Community Arts and Social Issues Class

Monica Rundquist, Empty Bowls

Kansas City Empty Bowls 2015, Kansas City Ceramic Artist, LeRoy Grubbs, Tommy Frank, Paul Donnelly, Steven Hill

Clay Art Center, Port Chester



Aubrey Purdy Rude and Mat Rude, Listening is Loving


About Across the Table, Across the Land:

To celebrate its 50th Anniversary, NCECA invited Michael Strand and Namita Wiggers to curate, Across the Table, Across the Land, a project to examine how clay connects communities through food today. Considering the table as a literal and metaphorical space, this project includes objects, photographs, videos, and associated events during the conference, all drawn from an online archive populated with stories and images of work by NCECA members and K-12 Challenge participants in the US and abroad. Visit and follow acrossthetable2015 on Instagram to view all submissions and to connect with associated exhibition programs taking place during NCECA.

Location: Charlotte Street Foundation, La Esquina Thursday Night Shuttle

1000 W. 25th St, Kansas City, MO 816-994-7730,

 Online: and acrossthetable2015 on instagram


Thanks to the Windgate Charitable Foundation for supporting Across the Table, Across the Land.

2016 Randall Session: Wit and Menace

2016 Randall Session: Wit and Menace

Back in 1989, right here in Kansas City, NCECA introduced what would become a hallmark of the conference’s opening festivities: The Randall Session. And right now, I have the good fortune of introducing you to the mastermind behind this year’s session, Mark Southerland, and the group of esteemed artists joining him on stage to perform Wit & Menace: An Operetta.

First, here’s a quick history lesson: Named in honor of one of NCECA’s founders, Ted Randall, the vision for the session was articulated in that year’s program:

The uniqueness of Ted’s contribution to ceramic art was, in large measure, the result of an extra sharp intelligence focused, not on narrow issues of ceramics alone, but on broader questions of aesthetics and philosophy, particularly the inquiries of mankind into the nature of knowledge and meaning. Therefore, it seems appropriate to recognize and honor the major contribution that Ted Randall made to American ceramic art and especially to NCECA at the annual Randall Session which focuses on ideas that expand on Ted’s own broad interests.

Jay Lacouture, 2015 Providence on-site liaison, recounted the inaugural session in a previous post on this trusty blog:

Victor Babu gave a moving tribute to his mentor and we heard a recording of Ted’s voice discussing some of the beautiful ceramic objects in the Nelson-Atkins Museum. We sat in Unitarian Church and listened to two Beethoven sonatas for cello and piano. It was a very introspective and spiritual moment separated from the usual hustle of an NCECA Conference.

In the intervening years, musicians, poets, mimes, storytellers, critics, activists, and other genre-bending artists have graced the stage and given NCECA members myriad expressions of the creative spirit.


Southerland/Lighton Collaboration

Returning to Kansas City for its 50th, NCECA carries forward the tradition of the Randall Session—but it is perhaps the very first time that ceramics are so seamlessly united with other art forms in a singular performance. When tasked with identifying talent for this session, Paul Donnelly and I exchanged a knowing glance as thoughts of Mark Southerland and Linda Lighton’s sculptural ceramic/horn instruments flashed across our minds.


tiny stadium with sean starowitz

Southerland is an experimental jazz musician and multi-disciplinary artist with a distinct gift for bringing people together for ambitious environmental installations and happenings, from tiny stadium concerts to large-scale outdoor fashion shows. Linda, as many of you, dear readers, know, is one of NCECA’s own: ceramic artist, arts advocate, and recipient of this year’s Outstanding Achievement Award.


no more nomadsAnother distinguishing feature of this year’s Randall Session is that the performance was created expressly for NCECA and for all of YOU. It’s not culled from a repertoire, rather, it draws on the spirit of creative collaboration that characterizes relationships between mentors and mentees, colleagues and friends, and the joys and struggles in art and life.


The key players include Mark Southerland (creator/producer, horns), Victoria Sofia Botero (soprano), Annie Ellicott (jazz vocalist), Russell Thorpe (bass clarinet, sax, other woodwinds), Nick Howell (trumpet, assorted brass), John Kizilarmut (drums), Jeff Harshbarger (bass), J. Ashley Miller (music and technical director) and not least, Linda Lighton, whose porcelain forms are integrated into and emerge from Southerland’s instruments.

Mark Southerland & Annie Ellicott Photo: E. G. Schempf

Mark Southerland & Annie Ellicott
Photo: E. G. Schempf

Loosely inspired by the fantastical paintings of Remedios Varo and Heironymus Bosch, Southerland conceived of Wit & Menace as a tableaux vivant brought to life through a duet and duel between two sets of musicians and vocalists entwined in Southerland’s wearable, playable horn sculptures. So, how will it unfold? Mark was kind enough to entertain a few questions over email. Here are some of his hints at what’s to come:

Wit and Menace will have times of distinction – Victoria Botero (opera singer) will put the fear in us all, in that way only an opera singer can. Conversely Annie Ellicott (jazz singer and improviser) will have moments of great whimsy. But a majority of the time it will be passed around, distorted, even refused. The clown becomes the killer, the bunny becomes the wolf.

Southerland has used the saxophone as a medium for exploring sound and performance for 25 years, reinterpreting jazz traditions and reinventing the horn as a hybrid instrument, garment, and work of art. His first such horn sculpture was used in a burlesque show:

I played it on my wife Peregrine Honig. Many in the audience were amazed at this strange innovation and also nearly embarrassed by its intimacy. I quickly moved it out of this mid-brow world and began integrating it into my fine art. I love that it was born in burlesque, much like jazz was born in brothels. It’s great to have that lusty grit to go back to. They are compelling as art objects because they directly reflect the human form and are mingling with beautiful voices. They are now a nearly perfect nexus of my art life, drawing equally from creative music, sculpture, and performance art.

A few years ago, Southerland’s horn sculptures evolved away from the body and on to the pedestal to include a series of works with Linda Lighton’s porcelain forms emerging from the bells. With Wit and Menace, though, Lighton’s forms blossom forth and bubble up into the realm of live performance. Southerland shared a few insights about their collaboration and the polarity between their materials:

Southerland/Lighton Collaboration

Southerland/Lighton Collaboration

Linda and I speak a similar visual language very naturally, and we recognized it almost immediately. We often talk about our work very differently, but we work about our work very similarly. My horns are assemblages made from graveyard band instruments. This sets a nice contrast to Linda’s more pure expression, building forms from water and “beautiful mud”. From feculence to fecundity our work cycles through life having conversations all the while.



As a Kansas City native, Southerland is steeped in Kansas City’s jazz vernacular, but he is continually pushing its boundaries and immersing himself in other traditions, thus slipping between the familiar, the foreign, and a fusion between the two. Here are a few parting thoughts on one of the key ingredients in his creative process, and shots of the new horn sculptures-in-progress:

Learning jazz improvisation is like learning Latin – a language that lets you learn other languages. It’s a way of communicating that only partially relies on the actual type of music you are improvising with. Most of the great communication that happens does not rely on the song form or sub genre being engaged at that moment. Musical improvisation is a meta language, therefor it can easily be applied across all disciplines. If you have a sense of someone’s artistry and skills you can start to improvise with them inside the parameters of the piece. You figure out the right people to invite to this very complex conversation, and then trust in your exchanges.

southerland sandblast

southerland lighton III

Join us for the premiere of Wit & Menace and other opening festivities to kick off this historic gathering on Wednesday, March 16 beginning at 7 PM in the Grand Ballroom. We’ll see you there!