My name is Garth Johnson… and I have a problem with books. Specifically, buying and collecting them. Every year I come back from NCECA with a backbreaking load of books that I hadn’t previously heard about. Last year’s treasure was a fantastic Waylande Gregory catalog that was released by University of Richmond to document a 2013 exhibition of Gregory’s work. The research and writing was fantastic—along with archival photos documenting his legendary Fountain of the Atom at the 1939 World’s Fair.
When NCECA got a letter last year from Art Historian Ezra Shales suggesting we organize some sort of “reading room” to showcase recent scholarly publications and monographs, I literally did a face palm when I realized what an obvious idea it was. The old complaint about the lack of scholarship in ceramics doesn’t hold water anymore (if it ever did). Each year, dozens of books come out from both domestic and international presses that merit our attention. I consider myself to be something of an authority (if not addict) of ceramic publications, and I’m still surprised at major titles that I have missed.
SO. The NCECA Board decided to act on Ezra Shales’ suggestion. I recently stepped into the role of Curator of Ceramics at Arizona State University’s Art Museum (and Ceramics Research Center). A partnership between NCECA and ASU is a no-brainer. We have an extensive research library, so we agreed to gather the books and put the reading room programming together.
During the Thursday and Friday of the conference, members will be able to preview and spend time with the dozens of publications that we have gathered. From scholarly publications about Native American pottery to new titles from German publisher Arnoldsche, we’ll have something for everyone.
We won’t be actually selling books in the reading room, but we’re making promo materials and order forms available from the publishers, as well as providing a list of the titles to make it easy for members to buy the books online or request them for their institution’s libraries.
If you’d like to donate or suggest a book that was released anytime between 2013 and the present, there is still time. At this time, we’re only accepting scholarly books, museum catalogs and monographs—at the moment, “how-to” books seem to be well-represented in the booths at the Resource hall. NCECA is also looking for volunteers to help staff the room. If you’re a bookwork who is already planning to spend a significant amount of time browsing, why not make it official?
Anyone with questions, book donations or suggestions should contact Garth Johnson, Curator of Ceramics at the ASU Ceramics Research Center at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to geeking out with you over a good book.