Warren MacKenzie
March 1, 2024
Warren MacKenzie was the Bernie Sanders of ceramics. He was a populist. He was honest and opinionated. He wanted the fruit of his labor to be everywhere, accessible and affordable. He encouraged his students, and he inspired many people outside of his field. But he also inspired people by getting up every morning and doing work that was meaningful to him.
Katherine Choy in New Orleans, 1952–1955. Photo courtesy Robinson Archive. Jack Robinson, photographer (American, 1928–1997).
February 1, 2023
I believe that the artist-potter should question life. This requires a continuous breaking down and summarizing to express, to relate, to find one place and move with one’s own time, yet keep a universal entity. – Katherine Choy
Drawing distinctions between art and traditional African societies, as well as the use of the term "non-Western," underlines the necessity to recognize changes that have occurred in Africa, particularly within the last century. To understand the limited relevancy of certain terms and to differentiate between ancient, traditional, and current trends in the arts, a categorization of African art into traditional and contemporary domains becomes a useful classification.
Otagaki Rengetsu: Tea bowl with incised poem. Glazed stoneware, 19th century. Collection of John Fong.
October 1, 2022
The nun-potter Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875) is widely considered to be one of Japan’s most remarkable women. Along with emperors, military leaders, and notable men of culture, she is among those portrayed in Kyoto’s Festival of the Ages (Jidai matsuri) each autumn. Despite her preliminary objections, collections of her poetry were published during her lifetime, and countless people in the Kyoto region visited her little hut to pester her for examples of her pottery and calligraphy.
October 1, 2022
This month's FREE article. This was the largest exhibition of the medium at the time, the first Pan-American survey of contemporary ceramics, and it remains one of few US exhibitions that tried to characterize the varied approaches of Latin American ceramists. With seventy pieces of modern ceramics from the region, organizers assembled impressive examples made by leading artists; to name only a few, these included Marina Nuñez del Prado, the internationally acclaimed modernist sculptor from Bolivia; Diana Chiari de Gruber, who founded the National Pottery School in La Arena, Panama; the Paraguayan ceramist Campos Cervera who signed his work under the pseudonym Julián de la Herrería, and his wife, the Spanish-born Paraguayan artist and cultural influencer Josefina Plá. What follows is a layered story about Latin America’s influence on US studio ceramics before the post-war era.
September 1, 2022
"Our dear Antonio has been a pioneer, he has fought to the death to dignify ceramics, so that he occupies his rightful place within the current of art. A great defender of culture, he has cared for and safeguarded the identity of ceramics. With great effort he has ensured that everyone had access to ceramic knowledge."
June 1, 2022
To talk about cultural appropriation alone means putting cultures in categories distinct and separate from one another. Each culture as an island, never influenced by another – reality just doesn’t support that.
October 1, 2021
Gary and Daphne Hatcher have spent their lives wholly committed to each other and the shared belief that making art would sustain them financially and in all other facets of their lives.
September 1, 2021
I hope, now, that my ongoing research and future publications will highlight this model of community building both within and beyond the contemporary art world, in a way that could serve society at large, helping researchers in the humanities build a better understanding of how and why people choose to work together, and more importantly, how they do so productively.
August 1, 2021
Over the course of fifty years Mata Ortiz Pottery became an outstanding artistic movement and one of the most relevant ceramic expressions in the world. But how did such a young pottery tradition emerge, seemingly from nowhere, and quickly evolve? The most popular narrative, the “single story” distilled from a larger, more complex narrative, involves only a few men. What follows is our history, the multi-layered narrative, as told by the people who have lived it.
June 1, 2021
You can learn much about the quality of an environment by the number and type of birds that pass through it or call it home. Similarly, the character of a culture is revealed through the objects it produces. When pots and birds intersect, you get unique insights into how the maker sees the natural world.
May 1, 2021
During the last decade there have been more and more concerted efforts to decolonize our notions of what working with clay means, and while it is a difficult point in our history to feel optimism, people who make things out of clay are always in community...For those seeking positive changes in our society, we must remember that there are steps backward and forward, the path is erratic and often uncertain, but the arc has been toward justice – we just don’t have enough of it yet.
March 1, 2021
I found myself awestruck and absorbed, drawn across the room by smallish pyramid-shaped gems – the brilliance of "Glaze Flow Blocks" by Karen Thuesen Massaro had me gripped.
March 1, 2021
The Shakers pursued perfection through purity, goodness, equality, kindness. I wanted to create pottery that embodied that same aesthetic...
January 4, 2021
Although 2020 was a challenging year that exhausted us all, 2021 needs to be the year that we move forward to create impactful change. The change that we need – the anti-racist ideals that we should all strive to embody – require deliberate action, attentiveness, courage, discomfort, conflict, and ultimately a release and restructuring of power.
December 1, 2020
"How do you make something beautiful?" "Get out of the way."
September 1, 2020
The Value of the Vessel
August 1, 2020
Cooking in clay cannot be sped up. One must slow to the speed of the technology you are using.
August 1, 2020
There seemed to have been a greater freedom for the makers to explore variations in form during the developmental stages of a civilization.
NCC teaching artist Angie Renee assists residents at Martin Luther Meadow Woods memory care facility, 2017. Photograph by Alison Beech.
July 1, 2020
In comparing three articles, from the Studio Potter subscription, from differing time frames, I’ve come to understand a connection to art and ceramics that is more than skill building. I know the reason why my brain was has been so happy to have my hands in clay.
July 1, 2020
... a 1780, red jasperware beaker with a Chinese flower pattern was a chance find... It sparked a musing so enticing, with fresh eyes, I forged a new obsession and path in my practice.
June 1, 2020
“I’ve always had an insatiable appetite to learn and to connect with new activities, and I have benefited very much from it,” Paul J. Smith once said, looking back on his extraordinary life in the arts, and the passion that drove it.
June 1, 2020
The power of art lies in its capacity for alchemy, the ability to reach beyond given circumstances and change perception. For both Santiago and Hefetz, the power that propels their work transcends technique. Unflinchingly direct about sadness, they reach for hope, speaking to the inner core of our being. Santiago’s figures reach for re-humanization and dignity. Hefetz’s work asks us to recontextualize experience. Implicit at the heart of their work, however, is the idea of freedom.
March 24, 2020
Four artists use their artistic research to challenge the homogenized art narrative that has privileged those in power.
Brightly colored columns stand throughout the industrial site of Mission Clay Building Products on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona. Their presence, amidst outdoor horizontal stacks of terra cotta pipe, signals that artists are at work on eight-footextruded clay pillars.
Watkins in June 1962, location unknown.
September 20, 2019
Watkins's accomplished career, spanning four decades, included achievements in the academic, studio, curatorial, and scholarly realms. It’s a wonder that someone with this breadth of experience and success has received only modest attention in the ceramics and crafts fields.
The Heinos in front of their salt kiln, Ojai, California, 1992. Photograph by Bill Dow.
July 24, 2019
Equally celebrated in New Hampshire and California, Vivika and Otto Heino's ceramics are part of a continuum that stretches back into history, and continue to inspire those who follow along the path of clay.