State of Ceramics is an ongoing series of discussions centered around evaluating the present and future of the ceramics field. These discussions are free and open to the public—the clay community and the clay curious—and are intended to be informal, open, and inclusive dialogues where participants are encouraged to share their unique perspectives and voices. Each State of Ceramics discussion is led by different ceramic artists—often those who are exhibiting at A-B Projects—and is prompted by specific, unanswered questions they have about the shifting dynamics of contemporary ceramics. This is an opportunity for us to take responsibility for how we want to shape our field. These collective conversations are geared towards understanding the state of ceramics, expanding possibilities, and building community as we move through this process.
Fall 2020 State of Ceramics .edu edition
This free online series is designed as a collective curriculum specifically for ceramic educators and students operating in digital space, and offers a menu of hands-on clay exercises, readings, resources, and collective discussions generated by artists Cathy Lu, Andres Payan Estrada, and Sigrid Espelien.
2020 has cast into stark relief the relationship between current events and how we conceive of and relate to bodies— how the coronavirus attacks and spreads between bodies, how human rights are unjustly equated with the physical attributes of bodies, how bodies navigate virtual space, how fires consume bodies of land, and how government bodies claim and wield power. Clay has the potential to be a device for elucidating these issues; clay bodies can be understood as a proxy for our bodies. With this in mind, each State of Ceramics section and discussion will focus upon specific questions that Cathy, Andres, and Sigrid engage with in their practices, as they relate to the shifting dynamic of contemporary ceramics within the overarching theme of Our Clay Bodies.
Scroll down to download the exercises, readings, and discussion guides developed by each artist; wrap them into your curriculum or pursue them individually, and then join us online for collective discussions with the artists. These materials and events are free and open to all—teachers, students, the clay community and the clay-curious—and are offered as a menu of components from which you can choose what is right for you. State of Ceramics is intended to be a point of engagement, so we ask that all participants who attend the discussions please keep their video turned on, show their faces, and consider contributing their voices. State of Ceramics is an opportunity for us to take responsibility for how we want to shape our field; this work can only be done together.
A lump of clay doesn’t start its existence in meeting a person’s hand, it has a long history on its own: transported in a truck, being packed in a plastic bag, going through a pugmill, dug out from the ground, and transported with wind, water and glaciers over thousands of years; but first, stones crush into sand, sand crushes into silt, and silt rubs against itself until becoming tiny clay particles under 0,002 millimeters. The moment of a person touching the clay is equivalent merely to a sneeze in a human’s lifetime. In Norway there’s no processing of clay (everything available for purchase is imported), there are no brick factories, and there is almost no ceramic industry left. And yet, there is an abundance of local clay. How does this impact our connection to clay? Is it important to know our clay, know our clay’s history, know our clay’s locality? This discussion will address lay as a material not only perfected for our artistic visions, but also as soil, land, and territory.
Optional preparation for this conversation includes the exercise Sigrid developed about local clay, and a brief reading. Download her discussion guide prior to the online conversation–print it out or look at it on your phone while participating in the discussion:
- exercise: Clay Stories
- reading: Waste Glaze by Katrine Køster Holst, translated by Christine O’ Hagan
- discussion guide: Clay Stories
NOVEMBER 2020 | .edu edition | ANDRES PAYAN ESTRADA
Body Language: Human Trace & Digital Touch
OCTOBER 2020 | .edu edition | CATHY LU
Cultural Objects & Ritual
FEBRUARY 2020 | PHOEBE CUMMINGS
Ephemerality, Recording, and Ceramics as a Time-based Medium
JANUARY 2020 | KENNA DWORSKY
NOVEMBER 2019 | BRITTANY MOJO & CHRIS MILLER
SEPTEMBER 2019 | ANNA MAYER