A Conversation with Jessica Brandl, 2017 NCECA Emerging Artist

A Conversation with Jessica Brandl, 2017 NCECA Emerging Artist

Jessica Brandl, one NCECA’s 2017 Emerging Artists has had a busy time since delivering an outstanding presentation on the final day of the conference in Portland, Oregon. Over the summer, she relocated from Philadelphia, where she had been teaching at the Tyler School or Art at Temple University, to Canada, where she is presently teaching at the Alberta College of Art and Design. In October, her work, Humunculus, was honored as the 1st place vessel award in the Zanesville Prize Exhibition. About the impact of NCECA’s Emerging Artist recognition on her life and work, Jessica shared the following:

Jessica Brandl at work

Since emerging at this year’s NCECA Conference, I feel a great relief, a quiet internalization of having addressed my peer group and presented my story. As a direct result of this public presentation I have been invited to demonstrate and speak at numerous schools and community art centers, and the added visibility has encouraged greater support and connoisseurship of both my work and research. The formal recognition by the NCECA board and committee provides value to my academic and studio endeavors, and the opportunity to present supported my assertion that I am a devoted member of the NCECA community willing to work and contribute to the creative grow of ceramic art and research to come.  However, the most important impact of this award came to me as an unexpected private transformation. In preparation for the presentation and show, I found myself looking deep within, searching for the most accurate way to describe what I do. I found the clarity and focus I needed through my feelings for ceramics and personal history rather than objects and practice alone. By retracing my own journey in clay, I was confronted with my strengths and weaknesses and realized that I had to speak candidly about this history in order to be most accurate about where my work comes from. Accepting vulnerability and having the fortitude to express this has been the most profound impact of having been an NCECA emerging artist. Thank you for allowing this public platform, and thank you for listening.

Jessica Brandl, Vessel B

Limited to 12-minutes at the conference, Brandl was kind enough to respond to some questions I recently posed to her via email correspondence. Her generosity of time and thoughtful response offer an opportunity to dig deeper into some of the decisions and motivations Brandl is exploring through her creative practice.


 JG: Why do you find the vessel such a compelling framework for sharing your stories?

JB: I admire the vessel as a visual framework in all of its historical iterations, but the most potent attraction to this context has to do with my personal history and how it satisfies my sense of balance. The vessel is a fascinating object, the void interior defines the exterior, it can physically contain something but it can also hold images and subsequently display ideas and narrative as symbolic language. A vessel is a container, but its interpretation permits a multifaceted understanding of utility as literal, metaphor or both.

Jessica Brandl, Vessel C

My attraction is grounded in the overt utility that a vessel suggests; it permits a connection to my Midwestern upbringing that established the premise that an object should be useful. It was the identification with labor and its value, which gave craft and craftsmanship high praise in my childhood home. What I now identify as high art, was viewed with suspicion in its seemly functionlessness and reference to decadence and collected wealth. The logic of childhood was flawed; however, my desire to mediate past and present perceptions through an object locates me at the contextual humility of vessels and pots.

Jessica Brandl, Ruin A

The narrative vessels I construct are beyond practical utility in most ways but my adherence to the void interior and vestigial function permits me to use the language. The linguistic ties are as important as the literal context and form. While many viewers understand what a vessel is, the appearance of novel content situated within the context of a familiar utilitarian form can be a disruptive experience. By calling what I make a vessel, I have framed the comparative conversation. Vessels and pottery preserve a formal levity, which permits me to address culturally averse subject matter.

Jessica Brandl, plate with birds


JG: Could you share a little about how you see your work connected to that of other artists working with narrative content within and beyond those working in clay? Who and what are you looking at and gaining inspiration through?

JB: I see my work as another iteration of a long and continuous human tradition of narration and communication. The telling of an epic or in my case an un-epic, with a cast of characters conveying something other and universal seems to be a part of human nature.  Artists that work with clay and clay-like materials speak the most directly to me. I examine how they have managed to communicate and what those technical strategies are; lastly, I like to ask why they are clay and not something else.

Jessica Brandl, Ruin B

I have always been fascinated by the raw clay bison formed on the floor of a cave in France some 14,000 years ago, those figures exist right alongside representative drawings of animals, abstracted dots, and incised geometric patterns. An important part of my personal narrative investigates why I insist on clay. Looking at other humans that use clay I am able to gain a better perspective through comparison.

Jessica Brandl, Vessel A

Therefore, I am inspired by human experience, specifically as it is represented in mythology, literature, science, history, ecology, phycology and culture. I compress the visual richness of the centuries into my own ceramic vessels, forming a distillation of historic and personal symbolic language.  Any visual or narrative similarities that my work possesses are the result of communal proximity informing my conscious and unconscious decisions. I do not worry as much as I once did about copying or nuance, I have a better understanding of myself as a unique person from a specific time and culture.  Themes, material, and methodology are the stuff of generating narrative and symbolic language. Each individual is different, but as members of the same species quite similar; circumstances and luck take care of the rest.

Jessica Brandl, Fintch


The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Art is immensely grateful to the Windgate Charitable Foundation for their support of NCECA’s Emerging Artists program from 2013-2017. Additional blog entries will appear on other 2017 recipients of the award before our 2018 cohort will be announced in the month leading up to the conference in Pittsburgh. 


Below, watch the video of Brandl’s 2017 conference presentation at the Emerging Artists Session on Saturday morning in Portland:

The 2017 NCECA Annual is here!

The 2017 NCECA Annual is here!

The highly anticipated NCECA Annual “The Evocative Garden,” curated by Gail M. Brown, opens this weekend, kicking off the 2017 NCECA conference “season” with a whirlwind of garden-centric delight and botanical wonder.  The exhibition, held at Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, features five artists who were invited by the curator along with 29 artists who were selected from the call for entry.   

Invited artists Megan Bogonovich, Jess Riva Cooper, Kim Dickey, Linda Sormin and Dirk Staschke set the tone for the exhibit which is indeed what the curator intended: “a breadth of implied and articulated dramas… staged as a personally defined natural landscapes or more formalized garden scenarios.”   The exhibit offers variety in approach to the ceramic medium as well as in conceptual interpretation of the theme, and captures the imagination as spring slowly approaches. 

Participating artists include Christopher Adams, JoAnn Axford, Lisa Marie Barber, Chris Berti, Megan Bogonovich, Jess Riva Cooper, Deirdre Daw, Audry Deal-McEver, Jennifer DePaolo, Kim Dickey, Caroline Earley, Carol Gouthro, Karen Gunderman, Dawn Holder, Cj Jilek, Chuck Johnson, Tsehai Johnson, Heather Kaplan, Paul Kotula, Annie Rhodes Lee, Nancy Lovendahl, Andrea Marquis, Lindsay Montgomery, Grace Nickel, Anne Drew Potter, Jessica Putnam-Phillips, Dori Schechtel Zanger, Linda Sormin, Dirk Staschke, Claudia Tarantino, Hirotsune Tashima, Colleen Toledano, Jenni Ward, Stan Welsh.

I’d like to give special thanks to Disjecta for hosting the exhibit, and a big shout-out to our On-Site Liason Brett Binford who orchestrated the installation of the exhibit, beautifully I might add.  Here’s a sneak peek:


This not-to-be-missed exhibit is easy to reach via Portland’s Blue line.  Hours during NCECA are Tuesday 10:30am-5:30pm; Wednesday – Saturday 10am-5pm.  Or come to the reception on Thursday, March 23rd from 6-9pm to have the opportunity to meet the curator and the artists.   I’ll see you there. 

Leigh Taylor Mickelson, NCECA Exhibitions Director


Want to visit pre- or post-conference? Visit http://www.disjectaarts.org/visit/ for gallery hours. 

NCECA Emerging Artists 2017

NCECA Emerging Artists 2017

The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts has selected the 2017 Emerging Artists. This year’s applicant pool was outstanding, which made it that much more challenging for the jurors to make our final selections.

This year the jury was comprised of Kim Dickey, Professor University of Colorado-Boulder, Tony Marsh, Professor- California State University- Long Beach, and Jane Shellenbarger, Assistant Professor-Rochester Institute of Technology.

The Six selected Artists:


Jessica Brandl

Jessica Brandl is a ceramics artist born in Austin Texas. She was raised amidst motorcycle culture with its love of the open road and rides without destination.  While a senior in high school both of her parents were killed while on an out of state motorcycle trip. Through the generous support of her hometown in Seward Nebraska and organized fundraising events put on by many local motorcycle clubs, Jessica was able to attend The Kansas City Art Institute in the fall of 2002.  Jessica holds an MFA in Ceramics from The Ohio State University and a BFA from The Kansas City Art Institute.

Her most recent work investigates the vessel as canvas and sculptural diorama.

Jessica resides in Philadelphia PA, where she is the Artist-In-Residence for Tyler School of Art at Temple University.

3roomplatterA Darwin1-2

















Rachel Eng

Rachel Eng grew up exploring the deciduous forests around Rochester, NY and her fascination with the natural world continues today.  Drawing upon the ephemeral and immortal qualities of clay, her work considers aspects of the controlled and unpredictable in relation to our changing environment.  Her work often employs repetitive patterns and the use of multiple elements to create complex visual and textural experiences. “I have yet to completely understand where my predilection for the repetitive stems from, but it is always present in my work. The process of making many small parts has become meditative, the way to work through unattainable knowledge or obsessive memories.” Eng received her B.F.A. from Pennsylvania State University and her M.F.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Personal Website: www.racheljeng.com






Christina Erives

Christina Erives was born in 1989 in Los Angeles, California. She Received her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Studio Art from California State University of Northridge and her Master of Fine Arts from Pennsylvania State University. She is currently a Resident at Red Star/ Belger Crane Yard Studios in Kansas City. Erives’ work stems from her memories of growing up as one of twelve children in Los Angeles, California. Through the use of various objects, Erives constructs information rich installations that speak of her experiences as a Mexican-American.








Brooks Oliver

Brooks Oliver currently is a studio artist based out of Dallas, Texas. H
recently completed a two-year, long-term residency at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. He has taught at West Virginia University, Penn State University, and the Archie Bray Foundation and served as a studio technician at multiple public and private studios.  He received a MFA in Studio Art at Penn State University in 2014 and a BFA from Southern Methodist University in 2010, and completed his post baccalaureate studies at Syracuse University in 2012.

Contact information






Wobble Vase 2015 Cast Porcelain Cone 10 oxidation 12x15x15 This vase is designed to wobble about



Kate Roberts

Kate Roberts is native of Greenville, SC.  She received both her MFA and BFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2015 and 2010 respectively.  She has completed residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, and Le Cite International des Arts in Paris. This summer she will be participating in the Parcours Ceramique Carougeois Biennial in Geneva, Switzerland.  Currently she is a Lecturer of Ceramics at University of Washington-Seattle.


Instagram is @katerobertsceramics







Judd Schiffman

Judd Schiffman received his MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and is adjunct professor of ceramics and department technician at Providence College in Rhode Island. Judd remakes personal mementos and family heirlooms into sculpture, provoking questions about identity, physical objects and the experiences that comprise an individual life.





















NCECA Portland Bus Tour Tickets– Get ‘Em While They’re Hot!

NCECA Portland Bus Tour Tickets– Get ‘Em While They’re Hot!

Hey Clay Lovers!

NCECA is right around the corner. We know you’re already laying out your conference outfits and figuring out a game plan for how to be first in line at the cup sale this year– BUT! There’s another bandwagon you should be jumping on.

…Well, more of a bus actually.

Here’s the run-down of the top-notch bus tours NCECA has going this year–

  1. The Portland Suburban Tour *

    “Diversity” by Marilu Pelusa Rosenthal whose work will be included in the “Imaginary Border: Ceramics As Transcultural Language” show in the Hoffman Gallery at Lewis & Clark College

    This tour will take you around to those hidden exhibition gems in Portland that might be tough to get to on your own.

    The stops are:

    1. Clark College — visit the Archer Gallery to see the Politics of the Figure: Ideologies of Failure show and the Frost Art Center Lobby Gallery to see The Next Step show.
    2. George Fox University — where the Tropes of Nature show will be
    3. Chehalem Cultural Center — which will house Ashes and Flux Great Waves Over the Pacific on Wood Firing
    4. Clackamas Community College — where you can see Migratory Flux-South The Corner of Siskiyou and Indiana: Ten Years, Ten ArtistsSouthern Oregon University
    5. Skutt Ceramics — where the shows FRACTAL NATURE: Works Exploring the Nature of Chaos The Alchemy of Surface and Keep Portland Wared: Pottery in the Pacific Northwest will be
    6. Lewis & Clark College — where the Peaks and Valleys exhibit will be up in Miller Hall and Imaginary Border: Ceramics as Transcultural Language and Bay Area Clay: A Legacy of Social Consciousness will be in the Hoffman Gallery. You can also check out work by the Archie Bray Foundation Resident Artists in Smith Hall and recent work by Victoria Christen, Thomas Orr & Ted Vogel in the Arnold Gallery.
      "Pink Silk Broken Show" by Victoria Christen, one of the works that will be on display in the exhibition at Lewis & Clark College

      “Pink Silk: Broken Shoe” by Victoria Christen, one of the works that will be exhibited in the Arnold Gallery at Lewis & Clark College

      This fun-filled tour is on Wednesday, March 22nd, includes a boxed lunch and, according to this blogger, would be “great for a solo-adventure OR with friends!”
      Cost Prior to Conference, $79.00 per person; At Conference, $86.00 per person
      Depart the Convention Center (OCC): 9:00am, Return to the OCC: 4:50pm
      You can purchase tickets for the tour here.
      *Mini-van not required to attend this tour. 

  2. “Portland’s Picks” Tour


    Detail image of “LOAF” by Ling Chun, whose work will be on display in Smith Hall at Lewis & Clark College as a part of the Archie Bray show

    This tour will take you around to Portland’s hippest Ceramic spots. Check out these hot stops!

    1. Disjecta Contemporary Art Center — which is housing the NCECA Annual this year, entitled The Evocative Garden
    2. Pacific Northwest College of Art — which is housing four shows in their Commons: Method Accumulation: Studies in Materiality and Existence, Reconstructing Craft: Feminism and Contemporary Ceramics, Scofflaws, and Post-Digital Landscapes. PNCA’s Center for Contemporary Art & Culture will also host the Tenuous Constructions show
    3. Oregon College of Art & Craft — you really have to check this one out. The much-anticipated NCECA Sponsored National Student Juried Exhibition entitled Flux = RAD! You can also see the OCAC Ceramics Alumni Exhibition and the Occupation show on this stop.
    4. Lewis & Clark College — where the Peaks and Valleys exhibit will be up in Miller Hall and Imaginary Border: Ceramics as Transcultural Language and Bay Area Clay: A Legacy of Social Consciousness will be in the Hoffman Gallery. You can also check out work by the Archie Bray Foundation Resident Artists in Smith Hall and recent work by Victoria Christen, Thomas Orr & Ted Vogel in the Arnold Gallery.
    5. Ash Street Project — Pots@ASP, Them Are Us Too, ASP/Emerging Artist Mentorship Program
    6. Eutectic Gallery — where the show Duet will be up (this is Portland’s only all-ceramic gallery, definitely worth a gander).
    7. MFA Applied Craft & Design — a great final stop featuring four shows: Diderot/Forrest/Roloff, A Tipping Point: Technology in Ceramics, Confluence and Bifurcation, and 10 Years in the Making.


      “Paleta #1” by Rafael Corzo, whose work will be included in the Confluence and Bifurcation show at the MFA Applied Craft & Design space

      This tour also includes a boxed lunch (what a deal!!).
      Cost Prior to Conference, $79.00 per person; At Conference, $86.00 per person
      Depart the OCC: 9:30am, Return to the OCC: 4:20pm
      You can purchase tickets for the tour here.

For more details on the exhibitions and galleries mentioned, check out the Exhibitions Listing.
For more info on bus tours, including shuttles to galleries and receptions during the conference, check out the Lew White Tours Sheet and click here to purchase tickets to any of the shuttles or tours!



STUDENTS – Apply Now!

STUDENTS – Apply Now!

NSJE application deadline is September 28th

Are you a current undergraduate, graduate, or post-bac STUDENT?

Stop procrastinating, and apply now for the National Student Juried Exhibition! This year’s exhibition will be held in conjunction with the 2017 conference Future Flux at the Hoffman Gallery at Oregon College of Art and Craft, March 4 – 28, 2017.

Take the opportunity to have your work viewed by this year’s jurors, Linda Arbuckle and Justin Novak.  Last years exhibition featured works by 56 artists including graduate, undergraduate and post-bac students.  In addition to the opportunity to showcase your work on a national stage the NSJE also features over a dozen awards.

The process is easy; simply follow this link for the application guidelines.  Apply HERE!

The deadline is SEPTEMBER 28, 2016!!!

Questions? Just ask!

Shalya Marsh, Student Director at Large – shalyamarshnceca@gmail.com

Naomi Clement, Student Director at Large – naominceca@gmail.com

PROJECT SPACE is calling you!  Applications due June 15!

PROJECT SPACE is calling you! Applications due June 15!

If you have been to NCECA,  you might recall visiting the Exhibitor Hall and running into some artists with their arms elbow deep in clay.  This, among other things, is Project Space.  If you have been working on something in your studio that does not quite fit in a gallery setting or a theatre or in any traditional space at all, Project Space might be the right place for you.

NCECA’s Projects Space is a platform for ceramic artists to create and present works during the annual conference that incorporate clay as medium in time-based, performative, relational or site-responsive work.  Up to three projects will be selected to take place in spaces created in a publicly accessible area the in the Portland Convention Center adjacent to Gallery EXPO and the Commercial and Non-profit Resource Hall. Artists will create (or present or peform) their works on-site interacting with visitors from Tuesday evening through Friday afternoon of the conference.

Successful proposals will be those that engage with the concept of NCECA 2017’s conference theme, Future Flux, using the medium of clay as a central focus, and also with materials, processes, and audience in unique and unconventional ways. Artists should keep in mind that Projects Space is staged at the heart of the NCECA Conference, and works are meant to occur, grow and change throughout the duration of the conference.

As always, we are looking for something exciting. Something interactive or engaging. Something meaningful. Something that will open our eyes to a new way of engaging with clay. If this is something you are working on, we want to see your proposal!

Apply now – the deadline is June 15th!