Delta Center for the Arts LH Horton Jr Gallery presents the 5th Annual Visions In Clay Exhibition and Awards Competition, August 21 – September 18, 2014.
Visions In Clay is the largest exhibition of ceramic works in the San Joaquin Valley. It is an exceptional show of craftsmanship and diversity of style through individual use of materials. In addition, the editor of Ceramics Monthly selected Visions In Clay to be featured in the magazine’s September issue. This year’s exhibit features 56 artists’ work from around the country, including local artists Bruce Cadman and Jessica Fong (Stockton), Jesse Rohrer (Lodi), and Don Hall (Turlock). There are 65 pieces of ceramics on display, which may also be viewed on-line through the Gallery’s website: gallery.deltacollege.edu link to Current Exhibitions, Visions In Clay.
Independent juror, Garth Johnson, Curator of Artistic Programs at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, selected the works for exhibition. The exhibition includes functional and sculptural works, with awards for both categories. Works were selected for their unique form, technical skill, and glazing and texture qualities. (See Exhibiting Artists and Awards page 2 and the Juror Statement page 3).
The Visions In Clay exhibition is the first of three shows for the Gallery’s Fall Season. The Fall exhibitions are discipline-based shows that focus on the primary arts curriculum of the Fine Arts Department:
2) 2D–3D (painting, printmaking and sculpture), and
This exhibition format brings in a large group of artists to present their work, providing greater exposure to diverse styles and media to Gallery audiences, thereby extending the educational and creative experience for our students. The Gallery’s primary mission is to support student-learning outcomes in the visual arts curriculum by building knowledge in the aesthetic, technical, cultural and historical context of the visual arts.
2014 Visions In Clay Exhibiting Artists & Awards
Shannon Abac (2nd Place Sculptural)
Stuart Asprey (1st Place Functional)
Jeremy R. Brooks
Bruce Cadman (3rd Place Functional)
Man-Ho (Billy) Cho
Linda S. Fitz Gibbon
Francisco “Pancho” Jiménez
Anthony Maki Gill (2nd Place Functional)
Raymond Rorke (1st Place Sculptural)
Tiffany Schmierer (3rd Place Sculptural)
Suzanne Graham Storer
Jetty O’Rorke Uebner
Exhibition Juror: Garth Johnson
Curator of Artistic Programs
The Clay Studio
Garth Johnson is a studio artist, writer and curator who currently serves as the Curator of Artistic Programs at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is a craft activist who explores craft's influence and relevance in the 21st century. His weblog, Extreme Craft, is a "Compendium of Art Masquerading as Craft, Craft Masquerading as Art, and Craft Extending its Middle Finger." His first book, 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse was published by Quarry in November 2009. He has also contributed to the books Handmade Nation, Craftivity, Craft Corps and World of Geekcraft. His work has been exhibited internationally. Garth’s work may be viewed at his website: http://theothergarth.com
Ceramic artists tend to fret. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Every generation seems to have their own concerns about new technologies and the fraying of society’s fabric. From the Arts and Crafts Movement to D.I.Y. and the Maker Movement, artists, writers and educators have positioned craft as a way to counteract a variety of worrying trends. Additionally, every generation seems to have different ideas about craft’s place in various hierarchical structures—education, commerce, and especially the art world.
In the post-war era, ceramic artists like Peter Voulkos and Ruth Duckworth moved forward with a resolute certainty that what they were engaged in couldn’t be separated from art. In the 1960s, Robert Arneson may have reveled in the use of hobby craft materials, but his work strove (albeit with tongue positioned firmly in cheek) to position itself as art. Throughout the 1970s, handmade crafts and functional work gained a degree of acceptance not seen since the Industrial Revolution.
As the market for finely wrought, high dollar fine craft heated up in the 1980s, the craft world was often looking over its shoulder, seeking validation from the blue chip New York art world. Ceramic exhibitions in museums became more common, but they celebrated a very narrow vein of craft that the Manhattan gallery world found palatable. By the ‘90s, it seemed like the craft world was in danger of having all of the life (not to mention fun) sucked out of it. The ‘90s saw an explosion of “whimsical” craft, but something felt forced.
Fast forward to the present. The United States has been through a cycle of wars, recessions and economic bubbles. In many primary and secondary schools, art has been cut out to make room for No Child Left Behind and The Common Core. In Colleges and Universities, craft classes are being folded into interdisciplinary programs or eliminated outright. Somehow through all of this, craft is still a thing.
Clay is definitely still a thing. NCECA (The National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) is growing, and a quick look around their conferences (which average 4,000-5,000 attendees), makes it clear there is no shortage of young artists who are eager to talk shop and share techniques and traditions. The vast majority of these young artists are unburdened by the hand-wringing that has seemed to afflict other generations.
Visions in Clay is the third large National exhibition that I’ve had the pleasure of jurying this year. As someone who has a tendency to engage in speculation and head-scratching, I’ve had to take a step back. At the moment, clay (as well as the broader craft world) is gloriously messy, complicated and… VITAL. After a period of feeling like I was seeing the same old installations and artist statements coming out of the same old MFA programs, I feel like there is a reckless, polyglot explosion of genuinely experimental work, as well as functional work that combines suitable reverence for the past with a gleeful embrace of the new tools and materials that are presently available.
Visions in Clay has contributed to my renewed curiosity about contemporary ceramics. Even though I have my reservations about education, design and commerce, I can at least count on there being an army of weird ceramic artists to join me in tilting at these windmills. Visions in Clay is aptly named. The cross-section of artists represented here spans generations, techniques and conceptual approaches. Vision isn’t something in short supply.