One of the highlights of NCECA is the distinguished lecture, which connects a prominent scholar or other critical voice with our audience.  For the past few years, the distinguished lecture has been graciously supported by the Chipstone Foundation, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit that extends the boundaries of the decorative arts.

Thanks to the Chipstone Foundation, this year’s distinguished lecturer is Jenni Sorkin, who is an assistant professor of art history at University of California, Santa Barbara. The 2016 NCECA conference, with its theme of Makers, Mentors and Milestones is a perfect setting for Sorkin to speak about her research into 20th Century ceramics, and how it fits (and doesn’t fit) within the art world.

In April 2016, University of Chicago Press will release Sorkin’s debut book, which springs from her PhD research at Yale University. The book, Live Form: Women, Ceramics and Community is the first major publication to examine the role of women who popularized ceramics as they worked with and taught alongside male counterparts like John Cage, Peter Voulkos and Ken Price. Specifically, Sorkin focuses on poet and potter M.C. Richards, Bauhaus trained artist, writer and educator Marguerite Wildenhain and Susan Peterson, who wrote nearly a dozen books about ceramics and hosted a 52-episode television series on public television.

Even though ceramics has traditionally been seen as a marginal activity compared to other media, Sorkin’s tireless research has examined how ceramic artists, particularly women, have been an integral part of the avant-garde. As the conference theme suggests, ceramics has a rich history that builds community and connects people to their ancestors.

Join us on Thursday, March 17th in Grand Ballroom 2501 A for Sorkin’s Chipstone Lecture, Live Form: Ceramics as a Living History, which will draw from her upcoming book and show how ceramic artists have absorbed and advanced the lessons of avant-garde movements from the last 50 years, which shaped ceramics into the vibrant, socially-engaged field we know today.

Don’t miss your opportunity to hear from one of the world’s most dynamic craft scholars. You can pre-order Sorkin’s book Live Form: Women, Ceramics, and Community, which will be released in June, through the University of Chicago Press website