Announcing the Recipients of the 2021 McKnight Artist Fellowships and Residencies for Ceramic Artists

Northern Clay Center is pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of the McKnight Artist Fellowships for Ceramic Artists, Mike Helke (Stillwater, MN) and Juliane Shibata (Northfield, MN). Also selected by this year’s panelists are the recipients of the McKnight Artist Residency for Ceramic Artists; Claudia Alvarez (New York, NY), Eliza Au (Lake Dallas, TX), Lynne Hobaica (Bakersville, NC), and Janina Myronova (Wroclaw, Poland).

McKnight Artist Fellowship for Ceramic Artists

The McKnight Artist Fellowships for Ceramic Artists Program is designed to strengthen and enhance Minnesota’s artistic community, as well as significantly advance the work of Minnesota ceramic artists whose work is of exceptional artistic merit, who have already proven their abilities, and are at a career stage that is beyond emerging. Two grants of $25,000 each are awarded annually.

About the Awardees:

Mike Helke
Stillwater, MN

Juliane Shibata
Northfield, MN

McKnight Artist Residencies for Ceramic Artists

The McKnight Artist Residency for Ceramic Artists program provides exceptional mid-career ceramic artists with an opportunity to be in residence for three months at Northern Clay Center.

Each resident artist will receive a $6,000 award, studio space provided at no cost, and a glaze and firing allowance. Artists also present a public lecture, and are featured in a catalogue and group exhibition at Northern Clay Center.

About the Awardees:

Claudia Alvarez
New York, NY

Eliza Au
Lake Dallas, TX

Lynne Hobaica
Bakersville, NC

Janina Myronova
Wroclaw, Poland

The jurors were very impressed with the strength and breadth of the field, and collectively both overwhelmed with the difficult decision, and inspired by the number and strength of applications. The voices they represented brought the history of decorative craft, the process of working in clay, and an inclusive perspective on the field of contemporary ceramics. The selection panel for 2021 was comprised of the following individuals:

Sanam Emami is a studio potter and associate professor of art at Colorado State University (Fort Collins). She received a BA in History from James Madison University (Harrisburg, VA), completed a Post-Baccalaureate Program at University of Colorado Boulder in 1996, and received an MFA in ceramics from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2002. Emami was a visiting assistant professor in ceramics at Alfred University, resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana. She has lectured at the Office for the Arts at Harvard University; the Kansas City Art Institute; Arizona State University Art Museum-Ceramic Research Center, and NCECA in Louisville, Kentucky.

Interested in creating contrasting gestures that can coexist within a pot or tile through mark making, symmetry, and repeated patterns, the concept of unity with variety is important to her practice. Emami’s work has been exhibited and represented at venues across the country including The Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art (Alfred, NY), Clay Art Center (Port Chester, NY), Fort Wayne Museum of Art (IN), Hostler Borrows (New York, NY), Trax Gallery (Berkeley, CA), Clay Studio (Philadelphia, PA), and Harvey Meadows Gallery (Aspen, CO). Additionally, she has received numerous awards for her work including a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant for Craft, a McKnight Artist Residency, and has had work procured for various permanent collections including those of the Dinnerware Museum (Ann Arbor, MI), Robert Phannebecker Collection, and the Ken Ferguson Teaching Collection at Kansas City Art Institute (Kansas City, MO).

Edith Garcia continues to be actively engaged in critical research on the convergence of contemporary art, education, craft, and design with curatorial projects, publishing, and the realization of creative productions. Garcia received her BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MN) in 1998, MFA from the California College of the Arts (San Francisco, CA) in 2004, and a research degree MPhil at the Royal College of Art (London, UK) in 2012. Her current academic affiliations include the University of California, Berkeley and California College of the Arts (San Francisco, CA). Garcia also serves as the director of communications on Board of Directors of the National Council for Education of the Ceramic Arts. Garcia has conducted lectures and workshops worldwide and authored numerous articles for visual and design culture publications. Her work has long embraced unconventional and experimental projects addressing the ideas of transience, the status of the object in contemporary art and theory, and the consciousness of our contemporaneity as a society. Garcia has been the recipient of national and international awards, artists in residencies, and a distinguished visiting professorship at the California College of the Arts. Her works have been exhibited globally at venues including Royal College of Art (London, UK), Barbican Art Centre (London, UK), Gimpel Fils(London, UK), British Ceramics Biennial (Stoke-on-Trent, UK), MIAAO (Torino, Italy), Royal Scottish Academy (Edinburgh, Scotland), Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (Gatlinburg, TN), Tampa Museum of Art ( Miami, FL.), Northern Clay Center (Minneapolis, MN), and Minneapolis College of Art and Design (Minneapolis, MN).

Lyndel King became the director of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum (WAM) in 1981 and retains the title of director emeritus following her retirement in 2020. Prior to her appointment, King received her Bachelor of Arts in microbiology from the University of Kansas (Lawrence) and her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Art History from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Through her career at WAM, King’s work transformed the museum’s collection and presence, increasing WAM’s holdings by over 60%, and both moving and expanding their site on two different occasions, through a collaboration with architect Frank Gehry. Committed to the highest standards of inclusion and accessibility for museum goers, particularly the students of the University, King’s attention remains both on the experience of the museum goers, and on the further development and advancement of the greater museum field. Continuing her service to the field in retirement, she serves as the Chair of the Board of Overseers at Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at St. John’s University and on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. King has previously served on the Board of Directors for various institutions including the American Alliance of Museums, American Federation of the Arts, Association of Art Museum Directors, Association of College and University Museums, the Russian American Cultural Center, and the Upper Midwest Conservation Association. In 2021, King was honored by the American Alliance of Museums with the Award for Distinguished Service to Museums in recognition of her excellence and contributions to the museum field.

About the McKnight Fellowship Program

Founded on the belief that Minnesota thrives when its artists thrive, the McKnight Foundation’s arts program is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Support for individual working Minnesota artists has been a cornerstone of the program since it began in 1982. The McKnight Artist Fellowships Program provides annual, unrestricted cash awards to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists in 14 different creative disciplines. Program partner organizations administer the fellowships and structure them to respond to the unique challenges of different disciplines. Currently the foundation contributes about $2.8 million per year to its statewide fellowships. For more information, visit

About the McKnight Foundation

The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, advances a more just, creative, and abundant future where people and planet thrive. Established in 1953, the McKnight Foundation is deeply committed to advancing climate solutions in the Midwest; building an equitable and inclusive Minnesota; and supporting the arts in Minnesota, neuroscience, and international crop research.