Wednesday, October 17, 2012

we took a day off...

and went to hear well known ceramic art critic, Garth Clark, speak at the Mint Museum in Charloltte, NC.

Back in August when the Mint announced the program, I purchased tickets right away. There was no way I was going to miss hearing Garth Clark in person! If you are friends with him on facebook, you have seen and read his numerous, provocative posts.

The Delhom Service League, presented the symposium, "Traditional Pottery: Back to the Future". Other speakers included potter Matt Jones, Charlotte Wainwright, founding director of the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at NCU, and potter Mark Hewitt. The symposium was a culmination of dialogue between Clark and Jones that began when Jones wrote a series of blog posts in response to Clark's 2008 address, "How Art Envy Killed the Craft Movement: An Autopsy in Two Parts. If you haven't read Matt Jone's blog posts click here. I won't bore you with a rehash of the day, but it was fun, informative, and gave Jeff and I lots to discuss on the long ride home.

The final photo of Clark's presentation was hands holding a bowl of rice... we make pots because it's our love and passion, but we also need to eat. These are my words, not Clark's.
The past collectors are aging and downsizing... I hear that often when they visit our gallery (I am just browsing, I don't have room for anything else in my home). As craftsmen, we need to find a way to appeal to  the younger crowd... the future collectors, the ones that haven't filled up every closet, shelf, and cupboard in their home.

What is their aesthetic?

Garth Clark says we need to look towards the design industry.

Food for thought.


  1. You know, I have mixed feelings about this comment regarding following the design trade and this is one reason I didn't rush to see Garth talk. On one hand, I am all about fashion trends. I read fashion magazines and home decorating magazines and I get tons of home catalogs. A throw back to my days as a designer I suppose, I'm a junkie! I too hear people say, oh I love this but I'm trying to get rid of all that I have now, not add to it. But, I also have younger couples that love my barns, so that's a good sign. Some days I think I need to look at what's happening fashion wise but then there are days when I just want to make what I love to make and the hell with design trends.
    Most days I don't think fashion trends should dictate craft and art. This is something that comes from inside a person, something they have inside that they want to speak to, and trends should not matter, when you make what you love. However, if I were making functional pottery I would wonder if my glaze colors were going to match a person's home decor or if my colors were looking dated. On the other hand if it's traditional Seagrove pottery, part of the love for that craft is the nostalgia of it all.
    I knew if I went to this talk, I would get a serious Libra mind f@#k, but I'm sure that it was very interesting. I just go back and forth too much in my mind, so I avoid talks like this, haha!

  2. Tracey, I know what you mean about just wanting to make the things you love... that's all I want to do!!...but I have bills to pay.
    One point that Garth made about "traditional" pottery and the nostalgia is, that if we hang on too tightly to it we will become entertainment where people come to visit the "quaint" potters.
    I think you hit the nail on the head about functional pottery... we need to look at current designs so our work will meld with todays home trends.
    I know a pottery making couple whose work hasn't changed at all in 20 years, their work is well crafted and looked great in peoples homes in 1990... but it's not selling today and I am not sure they realize why.
    Garth also mentioned that he hears craftsmen dis designers all the time, but he never hears designers talking bad about craftsmen!

  3. I think it's possible to combine the modern, young aesthetic and still make traditional styled pottery; even a traditional piece of pottery placed in a modern decor can be spectacular. Design and trends are always changing and it doesn't hurt to see what's popular for the year or season and tweak one's art just a bit to fit within those desires and confines.

  4. I hear ya Michele! If I made cups and bowls I would be looking at color trends all the time, I would probably drive myself nuts. Might be why I'm not a functional potter! I go both ways on this arguement, stay the course and be true to your tradition, but then on the other hand will you sell more if your colors match in today's homes..... It's hard to be a potter no matter how you look at it! The word neutral comes to mind, then the work goes with anything. Maybe that's why I like brown pots. My brown pottery I bought in 1980 looks as good today as it did then..... That's why I'm sticking with white, haha:)

  5. I think if you want to be a designer you should try to be a designer & if you want to be a potter than that's what you should do. They are two similar but different fields. Frankly, I'd rather make my own pots then know they are being made in China. The joy comes from my contact with the clay. For others it may be the design and maybe they should pursue that. No matter what I do as far as following design trends and such I will still have people telling me why they are not buying my pots and others handing me payment.
    What I find hard to understand is why we are so often told to create just one body of work & then try to feed ourselves off of that (or get another job to supplement our income). Diversity is great in so many ways, especially if it can help you appeal to more customers. So if you have a designer line and a hand crafted line then why not?

  6. I agree Lori, in the best of worlds you have a line that sells well and pays the bills... then you take the time to make the pots that really feed your soul. I think that Dick Lehman has done a great job of that in his career.

    I admire Jeff Brown (my guy) for REALLY enjoying all aspects of throwing pots... he puts his heart into every pot whether it's 100 mugs for us or someone else, or a $100 faceted and altered tea bowl for a collector.


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