2019 Keynote: Winona LaDuke!

2019 Keynote: Winona LaDuke!

Anshinaabe prophecies tell us of the Seventh Fire. This is a time when our people will have two roads ahead of us—one miikina, or path, which is well-worn, but scorched, and another patch which is green. It will be our choice upon which path to embark. This is where we are.
“Power is in the earth; it is in your relationship to the earth.” – Winona LaDuke From honoreath.org
Make plans now to attend what is sure to be a moving keynote lecture from Winona LaDuke on Wednesday, March 27th at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Auditorium.  Please note, audience seating is limited in the auditorium, so don’t be late.  Ballroom A will offer overflow seating and live audio/video feed.  Cash bars will be available in the lobby prior to the Opening Ceremonies, which will kick off at 7pm.
Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development renewable energy and food systems. She lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, and is a two time vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party.
As Program Director of the Honor the Earth, she works nationally and internationally on the issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice with Indigenous communities. And in her own community, she is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reser-vation based non profit organizations in the country, and a leader in the issues of culturally based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy and food systems. In this work, she also contin-ues national and international work to protect Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.
In 2007, LaDuke was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, recognizing her leadership and community com-mitment. In 1994, LaDuke was nominated by Time magazine as one of America’s fifty most promising leaders under forty years of age. She has been awarded the Thomas Merton Award in 1996, Ms.Woman of the Year ( with the Indigo Girls in l997) , and the Reebok Human Rights Award, with which in part she began the White Earth Land Recovery Project. The White Earth Land Recovery Project has won many awards- including the prestigious 2003 International Slow Food Award for Biodiversity, recognizing the organization’s work to protect wild rice from patenting and genetic engineering.
A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, she has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues. She is a former board member of Greenpeace USA and is presently an advisory board member for the Trust for Public Lands Native Lands Program as well as a boardmember of the Christensen Fund. The Author of five books, including Recovering the Sacred, All our Relations and a novel- Last Standing Woman, she is widely recognized for her work on environmental and human rights issues.
“The choice between the technological and the spiritual will be based on both collective and individual decisions, both simple and complex. For just as life itself is a complex web of relationships and organisms, so is the fabric of a community and a culture that chooses its future. Either way, according to Indigenous worldviews, there is no easy fix, no technological miracle.”
Winona LaDuke from All Our Relations, Native Struggles for Land and Life, 1999
2019 Projects Space preview: Crafting Memories in Utopia

2019 Projects Space preview: Crafting Memories in Utopia

What is time? It cannot be seen, heard, smelled, or touched. It eludes all our senses, yet we experience it every day. Time is ubiquitous. To most, time is just a clock on the wall. A constant cycle of 24 hours resetting and repeating over and over again in a continuous loop with seemingly no end. My art gives form to these ideas in creative ways using both art and quantum mechanics physics. Each cube is a product of time called a ‘moment’ and installed together as sculpture, constitutes an ‘event’. Going beyond a clock on the wall, I seek to make time, a seemingly invisible event, take form. I also seek to challenge people on how they view their own time and to make them consciously aware of not only time but their presence in it as well. Like time itself, my work and these forms have no end in sight.

If one was to describe Utopia, each time and place would be as unique as the next. Many of us dream of a utopian environment, but occasionally forget to stop and look at the journey it takes to get there. It sometimes feels as if people are far too often consumed by technology and are unaware of what is happening around them. Constantly trying to capture what’s happening in front of them on a tiny screen so they can remember it later, rather than just being in the moment and seeing the event through their eyes. During this installation, I invite everyone to come create a moment of time (tiny cube), which then becomes a memory, to document their own idea of an utopian time and place. Whether they create just one or stay and create many is up to them. Participants are invited to leave behind their moments in time and add it to the installation. Together, all the tiny cubes create a shared space of ideas and moments in time. This space becomes a shared Utopia of moments in time and memories of those who were there before. Over the three-day period, this installation will continue to grow and change form as people continue to add cubes to the grid. It is my hope that enough people join this project and we are able to fill the entire 10’x20’ of space given with this project. Thank you to Laguna Clay Company for generously donating the clay and sponsoring me for this project.

After this project is finished, I plan to save all the tiny cubes that have been created and reuse them in future installations to continue this work. The Projects Space project will first travel to Cerbera Gallery in Kansas City, MO where it will be part of my first solo installation for two months. Visitors to the gallery will be invited to create their own moments of time and leave them behind. 

2019 Demonstrating Artists

2019 Demonstrating Artists

Enjoy four fabulous individuals in Ballroom A on Thursday and Friday of the Conference.  Jeff Oestreich & Aysha Peltz will take the stage together on Thursday from nine to noon.  After lunch, enjoy Torbjørn Kvasbø and Kukuli Velarde from one to four.  Then on Friday, the schedule flips, so be sure to make note of that!  The simultaneous demonstrations are always popular not just because of the skill and technical expertise of the artists, but because of the incredible stories and conversations develop on the stage and interactively with the audience.   

Aysha Peltz’s pottery explores imagined space, scale and the poetic properties of the ceramic medium. She is a studio potter and faculty at Bennington College in Vermont. Peltz and her hus- band, Todd Wahlstrom, also own and operate StudioPro Bats. She received her BFA and MFA from Alfred University.

Working with clay is like a conversation and a newly thrown pot is like a statement that, for me, cannot go unanswered. The answer might be to push, cut, rip, texture or facet. In this demonstration, I will engage in a conversation beginning with a newly thrown porcelain pot, addressing it while still wet on the wheel, seeking to capture expressive moments

Jeff Oestreich discovered clay when he was a senior in high school in 1964. At Bemidji State College, in northern Minnesota, Ceramics 101 answered the question of his life’s work. From there, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota to work under Warren MacKenzie. A few days after graduation he was on a plane to St. Ives, England to apprentice under Bernard Leach, the founder of the studio pottery movement. He set up his first pottery in Wis- consin, later relocating to Minnesota in 1974. His passion for shar- ing ideas and techniques have brought him to England, Scotland, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. He exhibits regularly and recently returned to the Leach Pottery to work and exhibit.

This demonstration explores the various methods of manipulating wheel thrown forms by faceting, darting, scalloping, cutting and reassembling. The first morning will be the throwing of these basic forms. The second day will be assembling and trimming of these shapes. Functional forms such as teabowls, pitchers and serving pieces will be the focus. Attention to detail is the central theme.

Kukuli Velarde was born in Peru to parents who urged her to cre- ate from a young age. At age 22, she left her native country to study art in Mexico before relocating to New York City in 1987 where she earned her Bachelor’s degree at Hunter College.

Today, Velarde lives and works in Philadelphia where she cre- ates striking visual pieces — sculptures, mostly — that reflect her indigenous heritage, a deep knowledge of art history, and an eye for the unconventional

I will make a few slabs, cut them in strips and build a figure with them. I will use a mold made from a head I did of my daughter for a new series titled A MI VIDA. I will show how I work, using as example building a piece of that series.page11image2153814800



From 1996-2000, Torbjørn Kvasbø was the Professor and Head of the Ceramics Department at the University of Gothenburg, Swe- den. From 2000-2008, he was Professor and Head of the Ceramic

and Glass Department at Konstfack, Stock- holm, Sweden. Since 2014, Torbjorn has been the elected Vice President of the IAC. He has been involved with numerous solo and group exhibitions, residencies, juries, workshops and lectures nationally and inter- nationally. Torbjorn is represented in many museums and collections, both national and international. He lives and works in Venabygd, Norway.

The taut bowstring between an explosion of power and vulnerability that is held at breaking point, in a continuous dialogue between mind, body and clay. All are combined to create a readable whole – the encounters, proportions and precision striking a perfect balance: like a killer punch to the solar plexus. The process remains a continuous dialogue between knowledge, practice and cruel critical reflection.


Recognition and Celebration in Claytopia | 2019 Awards and Honors

Recognition and Celebration in Claytopia | 2019 Awards and Honors

You know them as wise advisors, educators, innovators, clay cultural leaders, and individuals who embody generous spirits. The NCECA Awards and Honors recognize leaders in the field of ceramics for the their impact regionally, lifetime support of others, roles as educators, and outstanding projects. Each year we look for nominations for these recognitions, through an open call on the NCECA website (We’d love you to nominate someone for next year!). This year, the board voted to approve that ALL awardees and honorees receive lifetime memberships and conference passes to acknowledge the significant contributions each has made (those receiving awards in previous years also receive these benefits now). 

We hope you will join us when we recognize and celebrate this year’s Awardees and Honorees on

Friday, March 29th, 5:30-7:00pm, Auditorium Main, Minneapolis Convention Center!

For now, please read on to learn more about each award and to be introduced to each of our esteemed recipients.

Our special thanks to this year’s nomination committee for their thoughtful review of all nominees. 2019 Nominations Committee: Anna Calluori Holcombe, Marge Levy, Brandon Schnur, Lauren Sandler, Rhonda Willers (chair), Russell Wrankle

Regional Awards for Excellence

Honoring commitment and outstanding contributions to the ceramic arts or cultural life, the Regional Awards for Excellence annually recognize individuals in the local and extended regions of the conference host city. The recipients are nominated by the on-site conference liaisons and approved by the board of directors.

This year’s recipients are: Lyndel King, Warren MacKenzie (posthumous), and Em Swartout (posthumous).

Lyndel King | As the director and chief curator at the University of Minnesota’s Weisman Museum for 40 years, Lyndel King expanded not only the size of the collection, but also the square footage of the museum, and its national impact. Taking the Weisman museum from its narrow halls on the fourth floor of the Northrup Auditorium to the dynamic stainless steel and brick building designed by Frank Gehry, Lyndel’s leadership allowed the museum to emerge as one of the top teaching university museums in the country. 

From the very beginning, Lyndel promoted the need for a world-class university to have a world-class art museum on its campus. She has left a mark on the University of Minnesota’s campus that few other can claim. I got to be part of that process with her, and I can tell you that the Weisman Art Museum exists because of her indomitable spirit, her intelligence, and her perseverance.

-statement by Frank Gehry, architect of the Weisman Art Museum

Photo Credit: Rik Sferra

Warren MacKenzie (Posthumous) | Perhaps no name is more highly and respectfully associated with the American studio pottery movement and its inspirational resonance with the values of the Mingei movement than Warren MacKenzie’s. He did not seek this recognition or leadership; rather, he became it through his passion, dedication, and daily studio practice. Warren’s commitment to the creation of the “honest” pot inspired his students and makers across the region, throughout the United States, and extended to international communities.

In any culture, the needs of the people control the direction of their self-expression. In earlier times, people were directed by their need to find food and to survive. Later they developed belief systems, turning to religion or magic, concerned with gods and goddesses, myths, political power. Artistic expression became a way to support those beliefs, to oppose enemies, to strengthen the culture. I do not believe it is any different in our times.

-Warren MacKenzie, Regis Master lecture, 1997

Photo Credit: Personal Collection of Randy Johnston

Image Description: (Left to Right) Warren MacKenzie, Ken Matzuzaki (of Japan), Phil Rogers (of Wales), and Randy Johnston, 2008 Anagama Firing called “The Sleeping Pot”

Em Swartout (Posthumous) | Clarence Lee “Em” Swartout is known throughout the Twin Cities region and beyond as patriarch of the Continental Clay family. Since its founding as a family owned company, Continental Clay has focused on offering the widest selection of ceramic art and sculpting supplies with over 65,000 square feet dedicated to clay mixing, glaze production, research and development, and a retail store and gallery. Em Swartout never retired; staying involved in the lives of ceramic artists across the county. He loved artists and they loved him. In his effort to help and support others, he was very open about his 34 years of sobriety in AA. Em was comfortable with everyone he met and was willing to help anyone in need. Rambunctious and silly were the sides of Em his clay friends witnessed out in the community. But his warmth, compassion, humor, integrity, and generosity, too, were ever-present. 

Honorary Members

 Having contributed to the professional development of ceramic arts, Honorary Members positively influence and provide opportunities for others to rise. Often recognized for dedicating much of their lives supporting others, each honorary member is also a creative force and leader with their own artistic practice. 

This years recipients are: Doug Casebeer, Elaine Olafson Henry, and Winnie Owens-Hart.

Doug Casebeer | Doug Casebeer joined the Anderson Ranch Arts Staff, in 1985, as the Director of the Ceramics and Sculpture program. Since then he has shaped the Ranch into a premier summer workshop destination. Casebeer’s commitment to the idea that workshop instructors are be there as teacher alone and not technician, is a unique approach. It affords the instructors that space and energy necessary to be effective teachers and allows the gifted technical support staff to offer consistent quality to the work being produced during workshops at Anderson Ranch. As the Ranch’s Chair of the Artist in Residency, Casebeer helped to create a welcoming environment that fostered creativity within multiple disciplines. There is no way to adequately summarize how Doug’s Thirty plus years have impacted all of the artists, teachers, students, staff and the community of Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Suffice it to say that his legacy will always be felt on the Ranch grounds.

In the fall of 2018, Doug embarked on a new chapter of teaching and service. He will take his knowledge, enthusiasm, and expertise in kiln construction to another institution and group of students fortunate to have him. He is the newest Artist in Residence at the Oklahoma University School of Visual Arts. It should come as no surprise that in the short time he has been at OU School of Visual Arts he has already built a new version of the “little vic” soda kiln for the university.

Casebeer’s philosophic creativity has fueled his fervor as a kind of global “ambassador of peace” for well over three decades. Through workshops and lectures, he believes in bringing grace and beauty into people’s lives through the art experience. His role as United Nations Production Advisor and Ceramics Consultant reads like that of a US Secretary of State, with travels to Washington DC, Taiwan, Mexico, Vienna, Japan, Chile, Geneva, and Nepal, among other destinations. 

Victoria Woodward Harvey, Ceramics Monthly, January 2016

Elaine Olafson Henry | Elaine Olafson Henry is a ceramic artist, curator, writer, and local volunteer. She is the former Editor and Publisher of the international ceramics journals Ceramics Art & Perception and Ceramics TECHNICAL. he earned a BFA from the University of Wyoming and an MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and is now pursuing an MA in English at the University of Wyoming. She taught at Emporia State University in Kansas from 1996-2007 where she served as Chair of the Department of Art from 2000-2007. Henry served as the President of the International Ceramics Magazine Editors Association (ICMEA) 2014-2016 and the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) 2002-2004. She is currently a Fellow of that organization and a Lifetime Member of ICMEA. Her work is internationally published, exhibited, and collected. Henry has lectured, demonstrated and taken part in residences in more than 10 countries, including: Italy, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Latvia, China, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, and the U.S. She is an elected member of the International Academy of Ceramics. Through her work as educator, editor, leader, and artist, Elaine has elevate the practice of countless artists, both nationally and internationally. 

Elaine’s efforts have always been about raising the bar in the field, whether in criticism, publication, exhibitions, or professionalism, and she has done this by example. Henry earned the BFA and MFA degrees in art. Ever open to expanding her knowledge and experience, she is currently working toward and MA in English at the University of Wyoming. She is writing her thesis on ‘Comparative Rhetorical Analysis of Contemporary Art Criticism and Contemporary Ceramics Criticism,’ in an effort to continue to raise the bar by encouraging and contributing to the critical discourse in the field.

– Mary Jane Edwards, Executive Director, Jentel Foundation 

Winnie Owens-Hart | From an early age, Winnie Owens-Hart’s parents stressed the value of education above all else, bestowing her with the sense that she could begin to discover worlds within the pages of books. Today she is recognized as one of the ceramic art community’s most progressively expansive polymaths… educator, artist, filmmaker, author, and critical thinker in matters of clay, art and culture.

She taught at Howard University for more than 37 years and has conducted research, exhibited, and presented lectures internationally. Her career in ceramics began very early in life and has continued professionally since the 1970s. She opened her first studio in 1972 in Alexandria, Virginia. As a young art student, she imagined what pot-making and art must be like in Africa and then pursued that vision throughout undergraduate school. While teaching crafts in a Philadelphia public school, she discovered a film that demonstrated some African women hand-building a huge pot. She realized her dream of studying women’s traditional pottery techniques and culture in 1977, when she was selected to represent the United States and exhibit her ceramic work at FESTAC in Lagos, Nigeria. 

After receiving a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts she returned that summer to work in the village. Eventually she took a job with the federal government of Nigeria teaching ceramics at a nearby university to enable her to continue apprenticing traditional pottery, and was eventually accepted as part of the community’s pottery culture. For the past 10-years she has worked with women in a pottery village in Ghana. As both a  published author and curator, Owens-Hart has curated exhibitions primarily focused on contemporary African American artists and has also produced documentary films, including Style & Technique-Four Pottery Villages and The Traditional Potters of Ghana-The Women of Kuli. Over more than four decades, her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally with work in the collections of the Smithsonian, Kohler, universities, and private collections.

Excellence in Teaching Award  

Each of us has a teacher, mentor, someone who has opened our thinking and vision of ourselves. These educators, both formal and informal, often do not realize their full impact. Excellence in Teaching awardees have a career dedicated to the practice of teaching, demonstrated excellence in their own creative work and have highly visible former students in the field. They are beloved, celebrated, and appreciated by their former students and colleagues.

This year’s recipients are: Lenny Dowhie and Louis B. Marak.

Lenny Dowhie | Lenny Dowhie taught for 33 years at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville (USIE). His tenure brought stability to their program that has become more rare in university ceramics programs. Lenny passed along his experiences as an international artist to his students. His research afforded them an exciting, current and global view of the field. Recognized for his dedication, Lenny received the Evansville Mayor’s Arts Awards and the Arts Council of South West Indiana Art Educator of the Year Award. Along with his day job at USIE, Lenny has presented over 80 workshops, demonstrations, lectures and exchanges worldwide. Lenny’s work has been shown in over 100 exhibitions and included in important books and journals in the field.

Professionally, his activities have had national impact. He was a Founding Partner of Expressions of Culture, Inc., producers of the renowned Chicago International Exposition of Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art (SOFA) Chicago, NYC, Coral Gables and Santa Fe. He continues his involvement in this arena as a Partner in Expo Chicago, the Art Fair Company, Chicago, Illinois, since 2011.

Professor Dowhie set a great example for perseverance, problem solving, and above all—making Art.  His usual greeting to his students before class was, “Are you making Art today?” Just that simple phrase set the tone for the class—we were challenged to make Art every day. His class was student led—encouraging the senior students to mentor and teach the younger students, which built everyone’s confidence.

– Gregory A. Byard, former MFA student

Louis B. Marak | Louis Marak opens doors, and if you had the courage to walk through the threshold, he would help you reach your goals. I saw him do this for me and countless other students during my time at the Humboldt State University ceramics lab. He was a generous and supportive mentor to countless students. Lou created a challenging and creative environment at HSU for nearly 40 years, making exceptional impacts on his students and influencing a diverse field of ceramic artists including Michael Lucero, John Roloff, Skuja Braden, Ian McDonald, Ionna Nova Frisby, Brian Benfer, Nate Betschart, Jeff Irwin, Eva Champagne, Stuart Asprey, Brian Gillis, Colleen Sidey, Vince Pitelka, and Bryan Czibesz. 

His unique combination of casual delivery, pinpoint wit, serious criticism and self-deprecating humor created an interest and passion in his students. He would continue to solidify and support his students at HSU by quietly serving as an invaluable role model for how maintain rigorous teaching and art practices with lasting impacts. He treated students as individuals and challenged each one of us to find our voice, discover our niche within the ceramic world, and to strive to be the best artist in the room. Lou had an uncanny ability to breed confidence and empowerment in students without knowing it. He confronted each student with what we thought we knew about intent, content and process and then magically draw new work from us, leaving us convinced we figured it all out on our own. The impacts Lou has made through his teaching have been profound and continue to resonate, we owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to one person who changed so many people’s lives. (Written by Stuart Asprey)

Outstanding Achievement Award

 Recognizing a completed singular project that has contributed to the field of ceramics, the Outstanding Achievement Award honors contemporary artists, educators, writers, and other contributors. Their work is consider above and beyond what is typically within the scope of their professions.

This year’s recipient is: Richard “Dick” Wukich.

Richard “Dick” Wukich | Richard “Dick” Wukich’s love of art began during his high school studies in Braddock, Pennsylvania. Over the years since then, he has transformed his love of making and teaching pottery into a multifaceted movement that supports those in need locally and globally. Wukich went on to study art at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania where he earned a bachelor of science in art education. Subsequently, he earned a master of fine arts degree from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred where he worked with NCECA founder Ted Randall, Daniel Rhodes, and master teacher and potter Val Cushing. Later, he taught high school for a year before accepting a teaching position at Slippery Rock University where he worked for 43 years, until retiring in 2011.

Wukich remembers Cushing’s influence on his work and life through support of NCECA conference scholarships to regional high school students and educators in his mentor’s memory. “Val took me to the very first NCECA conference in East Lansing, Michigan in 1967. My support of this scholarship is a way of paying forward his generosity as a teacher and the influence of his expansive vision on my life,” Another way that Wukich has committed to the sustainability of ceramic art in education is through support of educator initiatives through the National K-12 Ceramics Exhibition Foundation. 

Wukich is also the founder of Potters Water Action Group, which has chapters all over the world dedicated to working on water quality issues. As an international coordinator for the initiative, Wukich has worked to set up production studios across the globe in countries such as Haiti, Nigeria and Nepal. Potters Water Action Group strives to provide safe drinking water through education, research, development, and the dissemination of ceramic water filters.

Claytopia Programming Highlight: The Wright Stuff!

Claytopia Programming Highlight: The Wright Stuff!

Are you an artist? Do you struggle with writing? The American Craft Council wants to help! 

It can be intimidating to get your thoughts down on paper. But writing, just like throwing pots, is a skill that can be learned. The ACC firmly believes that any artist can put together a thoughtful and compelling artist statement. What’s more, we understand how important these statements are when it comes to securing exhibitions, grants, and press opportunities. That’s why we’re giving a talk focused on writing tips and holding one-on-one coaching sessions to help attendees of “Claytopia,” NCECA’s annual conference, perfect their artist statements this spring. 

Each half-hour session will pair an artist with a unbiased, experienced editor – including staff from our award-winning magazine American Craft. Be sure to bring a draft of your statement to the coaching session along with any questions or concerns you may have, whether they be about grammar, clarity, or tone. The talk (“The Write Stuff”) is scheduled for earlier the same day and will provide helpful tips and readily accessible resources to help you hone your writing skills and improve your confidence. 

The talk is open to all “Claytopia” attendees, but space is limited for the coaching sessions. Reserve your spot today on the Eventbrite sign-up page. 

We can’t wait to work with you! 

The Write Stuff Talk

Friday, March 29, 2019
1:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room 2

Artist Statement Coaching Sessions
Friday, March 29, 2019

3: 15 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Minneapolis Convention Center, Room L100H 

Megan Guerber is the interim editor in chief of American Craft, the bimonthly publication of the American Craft Council. Prior to joining the ACC in 2016, she wrote for Public Art Review and SciArt in America, was assistant curator at AC Institute, a nonprofit gallery in New York, and served as a researcher and production assistant for the International Award for Public Art.