Finally, the Bowl Gets Its Due –

Check it out – the show highlighted in Whiteout just got covered in the New York Times!

Bonus points – I don’t know how many, but definitely a few good ones – for any of my students who do this or this.

Bowls haven’t changed in any important way since the Song dynasty. In fact, they haven’t changed much since the Neolithic era, between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago, when people first began making receptacles by hollowing out wood and stone or molding and baking clay.

Before the bowl, cupped hands and folded leaves brought water to the lips. The new containers offered a place to hold the materials of community and ritual: food for sharing, incense for burning, water for irrigation, wine for sacrament, alms for the poor.

And yet, “we don’t talk about the bowl because it’s completely this everyday thing,” said Namita Gupta Wiggers, director and chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Ore. “We take it for granted. We know it too well.”

via Finally, the Bowl Gets Its Due –

So interesting, though, that this story was featured in Home and Garden – not Arts and Culture….


Guest Post: How to Solve the ‘Whiteout’

This guest post is from my friend Mr. John Matthews who teaches ceramics at Conestoga.  He’s an artist, an amazing teacher, and a good friend.

I believe MOCC in Portland is once again addressing the art/craft relationship. People tend to handle craft objects, picking them up, trying them on, touching the finish and so on before purchasing from the craft show tent. Artworks tend to be observed but not handled – whether on the gallery floor or wall. We use craft objects, look at art works. Ok, I get that, and believe its true.

Post-Industrial Vessel, by Mark Rigsby - displayed on a gallery pedestal.  Inviting to touch this surface... but in a gallery setting, on a pedestal, would you?

Post-Industrial Vessel, by Mark Rigsby – displayed on a gallery pedestal. Inviting to touch this surface… but in a gallery setting, on a pedestal, would you?

But I had an experience in Houston that muddled this classification/separation more. I stayed with a relative in a large beautifully decorated house. Purchased copies of French Impressionist paintings in beautiful frames hung on the walls. And very lovely replicas of Period Chinese ceramics enhanced the table tops and shelves. Neither the art works nor the pottery were meant to be handled. They were all codified decorative objects filling a decorative scheme.

My instinct was to re-invision this home filled with actual original artworks of ALL media. What a novelty, and potential treasure that could be with selections as carefully considered as the items they would replace! And what a boon to artist and craftspeople if this were a trend of homeowners across the land. Forget the white box, white tent argument, unless you’re a curator. And act on your own to purchase art and craft made by current practicing artists, in order to make your statement.

I once participated in an art exhibit at Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion. During renovations, the historical 18th century paintings, porcelain, and glassware were removed to storage for safekeeping. Before these treasures were re-hung, artists and craftspeople were invited to display their contemporary works, for sale, in their places. What a transformation! The distinctions between art and craft were not even a thought in this setting.


It’s always a conference highlight to check out the Artstream Nomadic Gallery.  Yup, these potters pull up in a revamped Airstream trailer, converted into a potters’ gallery.

From the project’s website:  “This 30-foot 1967 Airstream Sovereign land yacht was completely remodeled into an exhibition space in 2001 by Alleghany Meadows. Based in Carbondale, CO it has traveled from N.Y.C., putting contemporary ceramic art on the street.”

Curated and managed by artist Allegheny Meadows, Artstream features work by some artists my upper-level students will recognize – Ayumi Horie, Christa Assad, Michael Connelly, Sam Chung, Lorna Meaden, and Tara Wilson, among others.  All of the work is for sale, and you can handle everything that is on display.  This is where I got my sweet little Josh DeWeese cup that in which I’ve been attempting to shrink my coffee intake over the last few days…

The Artstream has a tour schedule.  Curious?  Think this would be an incredible lifestyle?  (I do!)  Read more….

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International Conebox Show

So, back in the days before we had digital controls for kilns, we kiln gods and goddesses used to have to monitor the firing temperature using pyrometric cones.  Here’s a video – only about 1:30 long – that explains how this process works.

These cones came in a box.  (We have some of these boxes in the studio.)  Manufactured by Orton Ceramics, the standard size for these boxes was 3″x3″x6″.  And one of my favorite NCECA shows, the International Conebox Show, is a biennial (meaning every two years) juried show of miniature ceramics.  All pieces must fit within a conebox!  The detail on these stunning little pieces is amazing.  You can see more pictures of award winners or learn more about the exhibit at this website.

Here are a few photos I took.  My friends and I agreed that the pieces should have been displayed a bit higher than the low tables on which they were presented – you wanted to see them closely, but it was tough to bend down to the presented height.  Enjoy!

A few more K12 Show Highlights

The K12 show really was amazing this year.  I think it keeps getting better, annually.  The curator, Leah Freese, told me that she thinks the quality is consistent each year.  I remarked that in the current educational climate towards the arts, maintaining consistent quality really means that things are getting better against all odds…

I  have a catalog book to show you with all of the work this week.  You can also view every piece in the show here – descriptions of the work and the students’ schools are listed, too.  When you click on any picture, the website brings up a bigger photo and the information.  (If you search ‘Plows,’ my young students’ pieces come up.  Cute, eh?)

See anything that amazes you in the show?  Post a link to the work in the comments section, and tell us why!


This photos was from a session on Thursday called “Pinching on Both Sides of the Brain,” led by art teacher Andrew Tomasik. He presented rationale for using more pinch in secondary ceramics – not just as an introduction to more important project, but both as a substantial exercise and a product end.

He compared the dueling qualities of standardized and divergent (differentiated) instruction in school to the stylistic tension artists face between technique and expression. Tomasik presented that geometric pots – think wheel thrown, slab built, work with heavy symmetry and tight form – should be balanced in the project sequence with organic projects – more flowing, freeform work, designed – from his perspective – to “loosen the tight mind.”

He framed this dichotomy in terms of a simple project that, ironically, would make a great introductory project to clay. He had us work first in the traditional, symmetrical round pinch technique. Then he asked us to quickly poke a few holes in the clay, and expand the form from there. Most of the people in our audience preferred working in this way, from a show of hands. Tomasik said this was because we were a more “artsy” crowd.

Although I loved the process of this hands-on session, Tomasik’s message could have been much stronger with the integration of research that supported his perspective. That research is out there – some people ARE more divergent with their thinking than others, but creativity can be taught. And there’s a lot of research out there that supports the need for it, too.

Tomasik presented that we should, “Think of clay like a spring – structured but flexible.” The presentation was delightfully springy – but I would have preferred a little more structure.

Standardized vs Divergent
As a teacher, we deal with the same tension between technique and expression…
Geometric vs Organic

Many times a pinch project is seems as just a quick activity before more important ones like coil, slab, or throwing on the wheel.
Geometric activity – tightens the loose mind


Another Rockstar

This guy – John Hartom – is the founder of Empty Bowls. The big, broad concept of Empty Bowls – not the little gig we do at Malvern.

We had a nice talk, and he sends his regards and congratulations to all of our students who are involved. He really wants us to write up a description of our event for their archives. Any volunteers?