Officially Announcing the 2016 Emerging Artists

Officially Announcing the 2016 Emerging Artists

The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts has selected the 2016 Emerging Artists. This year’s applicant pool was outstanding, which made it that much more challenging for the jurors to make our final selections.

The selection committee, Jim Melchert, Eva Kwong, and Jane Shellenbarger had a difficult task of reviewing the applications from a diverse cross section of artists from the U.S. and abroad. We had very thoughtful and focused discussion over the applications.  We had to make some very difficult decisions and choices to identify the 6 artists to represent this years Emerging Artists.  They represent exceptional early-career artists, who have developed an authentic and personal body of work and we strongly believe that they will make a significant contribution to our field.

We are excited to announce a diverse and exciting pool of talented ceramic artists deserving of this important recognition.

joanna poagJoanna Poag grew up primarily in the Rochester, NY area. She received her MFA from the School for American Crafts at RIT and her BS from Roberts Wesleyan College. She is currently Assistant Professor of Art at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, NY.

kyungmin parkKyungmin Park is originally from South Korea, Kyungmin Park earned a B.F.A in 2006 from Alfred University and an M.F.A in 2012 from the University of Georgia. Kyungmin was a summer resident at the Archie Bray Foundation in 2014. Currently, she is a 2015 Matsutani / 2016 Windgate Fellow at the Archie Bray.

peter morgan 2Peter Morgan is a native son of Virginia, currently based in Pennsylvania.   He has exhibited throughout the United States and Europe, and notable residencies include the Clay Studio and the Archie Bray Foundation. When he is not in the studio, he is an avid bird watcher, runs marathons.

tom jaszerchekTom Jaszczak  received a BA in visual Art and a BS in biology from Bemidji State University.  Tom was an assistant for Simon Levin and Tara Wilson.  Tom was a summer resident and a Long-Term resident at the Archie Bray Foundation.  In the fall of 2015 Tom began a 3 year residency with his wife Maggie Finlayson at Penland School of Crafts.

kwokpong TsoKwok Pong Tso was born and raised in Hong Kong. At age 17, he moved to the USA  and  begins  to  explore  the  culture  while  continuing  his  education.  In  2009  he  completed the undergraduate art program at Iowa Central Community College and Northwest Missouri State University. After receiving his Master of Fine Art degree at  the  University  of  Iowa,  2013,  He  then  become  the  Assistant  Professor  of  art at  Northwest  Missouri  State  University,  teaching  all  level  of  Ceramics  classes,  and  act as the head of the Ceramics Area.

sean o'connellSean O’Connell is a potter and Lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  He was previously a Visiting Faculty member at the Alberta College of Art & Design and a resident at the Archie Bray Foundation. He earned his MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology and his BFA at the Kansas City Art Institute.


You can see the work of all of the Emerging Artists at the Leedy Voulkos Gallery during NCECA, reception on Thursday Evening, and hear their presentations on Saturday morning at the conference!

About the selection committee members:

Jim Melchert has been at the center of the Bay Area’s artistic growth and served as Visual Arts head at the NEA and Director of the American Academy at Rome. His work has been exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Oakland Museum of California, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the University Art Museum at UC Berkeley. Melchert has worked in a variety of media, including drawing, film, and ceramics. The path of his artistic development is conceptual, and his ideas led him to a unique process involving ceramic tiles: breaking them, drawing on them, reassembling them and painting the new constructions with glaze.

Jim Melchert was born in 1930 in Ohio. After his undergraduate studies in art history at Princeton he taught English in Japan for four years in exchange for the rich experience of living there. Returning to the States he earned degrees in painting at the University of Chicago and afterwards ceramics under Peter Voulkos at the University of California, Berkeley. Finding the Bay Area to be receptive to artists in the way that watering holes are to migratory birds, he settled in Oakland and thrived on the interaction among his colleagues and young artists at UC-Berkeley where he taught.  In 1977 the National Endowment for the Arts brought him to Washington, DC to direct its Visual Arts Program for four years. From 1984 to 1988 he joined the American Academy in Rome as Director.

One can see from the diversity of Melchert’s art work that he is a maverick who disregards many of the canons that define disciplines. His travels throughout the Mediterranean in the 1980s introduced him to ceramic tile as a medium ripe for further investigation. Among the places where his work has been exhibited are the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Art and Design in New York; the Museums of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; at the Museums of Modern Art in San Francisco, Tokyo, and Kyoto; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Documenta 5 in Kassel, Germany.


Eva Kwong is known for her sensuous, colorful, large and small scale ceramic sculptures, vessels and installations inspired by her longtime interest in the organic forms and colors she sees in nature. Kwong’s glazes can range from subtle greens and browns to bright primary colors. Her thrown and hand built stoneware pieces are often provocative exploring the concept of opposites. Kwong is most well known for her ceramics but she has also made prints.  A formal quality beautifully explored in Eva Kwong’s work is balance. To have it one needs more than one thing.

Eva Kwong  has a BFA from Rhode Island School of Esign and a MFA from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, 1977, and worked at Archie Bray.

She has received numerous awards including fellowships: the Pennsylvania Council on the arts, two from Ohio Arts Council, two from the Virginia Commission on the Arts, and one from the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She took a 2nd place prize at Viewpoints Ceramic 2001.

She exhibited in 8th International Shoebox sculpture, the National Ceramics Biennial, and the Millennium End Invitational in Beijing. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Mint Museum, an the Studio Potter website of significant pottery. She has had solo exhibits at Ruschman Art Gallery in

Indianapolis and the University of Michigan among others. She contributed to the Achie Bray Foundation Auction, exhibited at Wayne State University, Boise State University, Montgomery College, the Wooster Museum, Bowling State U, Scripps College, and other venues. Her work has been featured in Art & Perception 1995. She was listed by the Getty Art Museum Arts Education program as one of America’s most significant ceramic artists.

She has been a visiting artist at Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin, in Manchester, England, RISD, the Art Institute of Chicago, Cranbrook, Penland, Arrowmont, and at the South Australia Art Gallery. She has served as a juror for major ceramic prizes and fellowships and been a presenter at MI Mud.

Her work is or has been handled by Solomen Dubnik Gallery, William Busta Gallery, Hyde Gallery, The Clay Place.& Northern Clay Center.

Eva Kwong is known for her sensuous, colorful, large and small scale ceramic sculptures, vessels and installations inspired by her longtime interest in the organic forms and colors she sees in nature. Kwong’s glazes can range from subtle greens and browns to bright primary colors. Her thrown and hand built stoneware pieces are often provocative exploring the concept of opposites. Kwong is most well known for her ceramics but she has also made prints.  A formal quality beautifully explored in Eva Kwong’s work is balance. To have it one needs more than one thing.

eva kwong 2

Jane Shellenbarger,  is an assistant professor of Ceramics at RIT and serves on the Board of Directors of  NCECA as a director at large. She was a resident artist at the Archie Bray

Foundation.  She has been invited to teach, demonstrate Ceramics, and lecture internationally at such prestigious venues as Kansas City Art Institute, Haystack, Penland, San Bao Ceramic Art

Institute in Jingdezhen, China. Her work is exhibited around the world, and in the public collections of the Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., the San Angelo Museum of Fine Art, and Kanazawa Nakamura Memorial Museum, Japan

Jane’s studio practice has focused on utilitarian objects with deep and varied surface treatments, often including drawings and images that create a dialogue. Her work considers the tipping point between elegance and awkwardness, questioning conventional beauty within historical forms, and where the familiar object becomes artifact.  Her research embraces multiple histories and the nuanced and complex relationship we have with objects in our everyday lives.


Inside NCECA! Vol 2, No. 15 – First Time Tips

Inside NCECA! Vol 2, No. 15 – First Time Tips

If this is your first NCECA, (or even if it’s not), everything can be a little overwhelming.  So we put together a few tools to help you make the most of your conference experience.  First, take a look at the video below, which goes over basically the whole conference experience, then, be sure to check out the handy list of links to previous blog articles which can give you more details about the things you hear about in the video.  Be sure to plan to join me at my NCECA for New Attendees session on Wednesday at 3:30 to ask any remaining questions you may have.  During the conference, you can also always stop by the NCECA booth and ask for advice, help or input.  Lastly, be sure to follow the blog for important information daily leading up to the conference, and continue to follow it AFTER the conference too, to stay in the know about dates, deadlines, and announcements!


Learn about the Roundtable here

Learn about Projects Space here

Learn about Student programming here

Learn about Unconventional Clay here

Learn about Exhibitions in general here

Learn about Liz Lerman and the Keynote here

Learn about the Wednesday Bus TOUR here or  Learn about Wednesday Shuttle Bus Service here

Learn about Marge Levy, our closing lecturer here

Learn about process room here and here

Learn about Grey Area programming here

Learn about the Randall Session here

Learn about the Resource Hall here

Learn about K-12 programming here

Learn about Demonstrators here, here, here and here

Learn about shuttles to receptions here

Learn about Clay Stories here

Learn about the Cup Sale here

50 Women: A Celebration of Women’s Contribution to Ceramics

50 Women: A Celebration of Women’s Contribution to Ceramics

Ceramics is more than just a few hundred famous artists or those who teach it in the US. Ceramics are independent artists—successful and struggling; Instructors and students; young and old; working in many disciplines. Ceramic artists use an infinite number of fabrication, firing and finishing methods.  For this momentous conference, I teamed up with celebrated artist and dedicated instructor, Alex Kraft to put together 50 Women: A Celebration of Women’s Contribution to Ceramics. Artists representing 13 countries make up the roster.

This exhibition will be featured on the NCECA Bus Tour North Route.

(Tickets available here)

Ms. Kraft articulates the intent of the exhibition by stating:

Our exhibition provides a new model of engagement reaching far beyond individuals in the field of ceramics, arts and crafts.

10419970_244356559088586_8921280797968526281_nThis is definitely the case. Alex and I started with an exhibition idea and ended with an event with global impact. From having feminist icon Gloria Steinem tweet about the exhibition to creating a Facebook page with over 6,500 likes internationally, we continue to work to expand the audience for ceramics.

Kansas City’s beautiful and iconic American Jazz Museum at 18th & Vine hosts this spectacular tour de force of women in ceramics.

Here’s an appetizer for you:

If this makes you hungry for more, buy your bus ticket now, and if you’re hungry in general, be sure to also check out some of these great places to eat in the neighborhood.

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:

Unconventional Clay

Unconventional Clay

I am excited to announce that next week (Friday, February 26th), The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO, will open NCECA’s 2016 Invitational exhibition “Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change.”  Co-curated by the museum’s Director of Curatorial Affairs Catherine Futter and myself, the exhibition will feature the works of 24 artists who are pushing the boundaries of the medium and exploring connections between clay, art, process and social issues.  The exhibition is being installed as I sit here in my Clay Art Center office in Port Chester, NY, and I find myself wishing I were a fly on the wall of the Project Space and adjoining galleries, where the exhibition is taking shape.

When I came onto NCECA’s board as their Exhibitions Director in 2013, I was excited yet nervous at the prospect of working with Catherine Futter and the Nelson-Atkins. While I have been curating exhibitions for 19 years for galleries and arts organizations, I had not yet had the opportunity to curate an exhibition of this stature for a museum. But my apprehension was quelled in our first meeting well over a year ago, when we met at the Marriott during one of NCECA’s board meetings in Kansas City. Right away we were in sync – wanting to focus on artists who were using clay in unconventional ways, and whose work had not been overexposed in the field or at NCECA. We both came to the table with names of artists that we wanted to consider, and found ourselves immersed in process – arriving rather quickly with a theme that brought together artists whose approaches fell outside of the traditional realms of “making” in clay.

so much is happening with this versatile medium: in form, function, process, engagement and, even, permanence.

-curators statement

We have strived to include artists who are using clay as a material, not an end in-and-of itself. Unconventional Clay allowed us to think about how the material is being used in dynamic, interactive and innovative ways. Our challenge was that there is so much exciting work being done—how could we narrow down our choices? How could we indicate all the different manifestations of something that is ‘unconventional’?PalestineGazaModHist

“We started by identifying works that are avant garde in the process of production, from 3-d printers to digital programs employed to design forms, molds and decals. We also looked for artists who are investigating unconventional ideas about clay as a material. Bryan Czibesz, together with Shawn Spangler, are using 3-d printers to fabricate works that would be impossible to throw, manipulate by hand or create with molds. Thomas Schmidt and Andy Brayman each use digital programs to design forms and decals, with Brayman exploring notions of mobility, history and technology.

VigilantsMika Negishi Laidlaw with her partners David and Steve Ryan incorporate video with clay in an otherworldly installation that interacts with the public. Abstract ceramic hands adorn the wall. On each hand is a video projection of an eye. As you walk closer the eyes will follow your movements. And then the eyes will close as you walk away. Also working with video is Ben Harle, who “constructs, destroys, reforms and captures on video the ephemeral nature of ceramics and ideas of permanence.”

We chose several artists because of their incorporation of unusual materials and media into their works.  “Ensconced in the predicaments of our political present, Adam Shiverdecker awes us with life-size ceramic deconstructions of a Lear Jet using wire, slip and glaze.”  You will find it hanging from the ceiling in the center of the gallery.  “Anthony Stellaccio, on the other hand, materializes the past, using earth from personally significant locations to fashion memento mori. Dylan Beck and Adams Puryear each introduce unfamiliar media, such as goo, to expand the notions of what is ceramics today. While clay has been used to create musical instruments for millennia, Joey Watson transforms the pot into a vessel for the breath and multisensory experiences like nothing we have heard before.”  Joey Watson will give a live performance the night of the opening during the conference. I can’t wait.

A highlight of our investigation was a visit to Tom Sach’s studio in SoHo Manhattan.  As we meandered through his 3 story complex, outfitted floor to ceiling with works of art, a multitude of machines and tools for various mediums, and even more books and found objects, Tom Sachs captured the theme of the exhibition in the statement: “I want porcelain to be one of my iconic materials like plywood and duct tape.”   In the exhibit, you will see his “hand-worked tea bowls ironically emblazoned with a NASA symbol and the rendering of an 18th-century French ceramic vase in paper, screws and shoelaces.”  They’re exquisite, they’re playful, they’re fresh.

CSG_BETH_KATLEMAN_STUDIO_Headshot-USE THISWe were equally entranced when we visited the high-ceilinged bright Brooklyn studio of Beth Katleman, whose complex wall installations recall and re-create children’s storybooks, English 18th-century wallpapers and ceramic figurines. In her studio were bins and bins and shelves and shelves of dolls, figurines and toys that she had collected over the years. From these fanciful objects she creates molds for slip casting, then re-defines their existence as she places them amongst each other in her elaborate sculptural wall configurations.

Harrison - Pipe Dream #2 alternative viewOther artists who enjoy using an overabundance of objects and parts are Trisha Coates, Zemer Peled and Robert Harrison.   “Trisha Coates constructs complicated, layered panels of cast porcelain objects that invite us to create our own narratives. Zemer Peled painstakingly builds dazzling sculptures made of porcelain shards. Robert Harrison configures industrial ceramic pipes with found ceramics to create a dialogue between fine and low art. Nathan Mabry uses the opposite approach. He plays with art history, simplifying and re-interpreting pre-contact Mezo-American ceramics by unifying them with pedestals inspired by the “stacks” and “boxes” of Donald Judd.

Another unconventional approach that we wanted to be sure to include in the exhibition was found in Ehren Tool.  Ehren, a Marine veteran of the Gulf War uses the material of clay to reach out to the community to start conversations about war. He makes cups with a mission, and gives away every one of them as part of his process. Tool says of his own work, “The images on the cups are often graphic and hard to look at. You DSC02003may be for or against a particular war but I think it is too easy for us to look away. I think we as a country and as humans should look at what is actually going on. … I would like my work to vindicate the principles of peace and justice in the world. That is a lot to ask of a cup…”     Ehren will be in residence at the Nelson Atkins March 5-6, making cups and engaging local veterans. He calls each of his residencies around the country an “Occupation.”  Brilliant.

Tool’s approach to the medium through community outreach encouraged Catherine and I to consider other art-activists, whose works are intentional platforms to expose important political and social justice issues. We found this in the works of Simone Leigh, Dustin Yeager and Carrie Reichardt.

DSCF4089While I would have loved to criss-cross the country to visit everyone’s studios, most of our research was done online, and seven artists were chosen from NCECA’s call for entry. One of those artists was Chase Grover. Right away his delicate works captured our attention. How did he make this work? We began conversations with him, and he agreed to make a new work for the exhibition. I was so focused on his work, I did not take the time to learn more about Chase himself. Come to find out, he has been struggling with a life-long heart condition, and he was as delicate as his work. I was shocked to learn that a few days after shipping his piece off to the Nelson Atkins for our exhibition, he had succumbed to his illness. It seems ironic, now, that we had chosen a detail of Chase’s work to represent the exhibition on the cover of the 2016 NCECA Invitational catalog. We chose him because his work captured everything that we were looking for in this exhibition – it made you ask questions.

I have only just touched on all that you will see in “Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change”  and have to thank Catherine Futter and her team at the Nelson-Atkins, who took on the lion’s share of the logistics for this exhibition. I hope you are as excited to explore the exhibition as I am.  Join us for the opening reception at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art on Thursday, March 17th from 6-8pm, with a brief welcome and gallery talk at 6pm.  See you in Kansas City!


Garden Party

Garden Party

The Garden Party explores the fine line between the need to preserve and the need to re-imagine, re-configure, and re-contextualize the world around us.  Tapping into the rich visual and symbolic history of the garden as muse, the selected artists question artificiality, preciousness, and romantic notions of the sublime.

Featured Artists:

Kim Dickey, Rain Harris, Jessica Knapp, Kyle Triplett, and Casey Whittier

The Garden Party features five artists who utilize ceramics to explore themes associated with nature and flora. Their sources range from European decorative arts, Victorian sentiments revolving around morbidity and excess, formal landscaping, Ikebana design, and a desire to better understand themselves in relationship to the natural world. They represent a small selection of contemporary artists—emerging and established—that tap into the rich visual and symbolic history of the garden as muse for their artistic pursuits. Through subtlety and humor, these artists create stylized representations that allude to the intersections between nature and culture, beauty and longing. They question artificiality, preciousness, sprawl, and the romantic notions of the sublime to create a transformative experience within the confines of the gallery walls.”

– Rain Harris, exhibition organizer

Garden Party is one of the many exhibitions featured on the  Central Shuttle Route on Wednesday.  Click here to get tickets now!

Since 2000, the Belger Arts Center has encouraged viewers to explore, question, and deepen their understanding of art and of the world around them. Drawing upon the extensive John and Maxine Belger Family Foundation collection as well as a rich variety of local, national, and international artists, the Belger Arts Center has staged over 70 large‐scale exhibitions that represent some of the best in contemporary art.

“Kansas City is becoming an important destination for contemporary ceramics.  The incredible history and reputation of KCAI’s ceramics department draws artists here. Belger’s commitment to supporting and exhibiting their work helps keep them.”

-Michael Baxley, Gallery Manager