MN NICE Graduates

Emily Galusha Gallery
Opening Reception: Sunday, November 14, 12 – 4 pm, Limited Audience

MN NICE Graduates features the work of seven emerging ceramic artists from the seventh graduating class of the Minnesota New Institute for Ceramic Education (MN NICE) program. Participating artists include: Maggie Archbold, Kim Hamilton, Shawn Kelly, Alex Lange, Sheila Murray, Mel North, and Joe Tashjian.

Over the 2020 – 2021 cohort year, these individuals have taken a focused journey to define and refine their voice in clay. Through persistent making, critical analysis, investigations into ceramic history and chemistry, and the guidance of mentors and the support of peers, their evolved work has taken shape and stands with presence. Collectively, the work exemplifies their determination and risk taking as well as their passion for materials and processes. This graduation exhibition celebrates their accomplishments as they step into the next stage of their artistic journey, ready to strengthen and shape the future of contemporary ceramics.

MN NICE is an advanced certificate program that provides rigorous, personalized instruction for artists who are serious about taking the next step in their ceramic education. The program is designed to respond to the changing needs of emerging makers and to give non-traditional students high-level training in ceramic materials, history and theory, and professional practice. Through instruction and individual mentorship, artists build the skills, knowledge, and insight necessary to create a personal and cohesive body of work.

MN NICE extends beyond the physical classroom to take advantage of the rich ceramic resources throughout the Twin Cities, including: artist lectures, gallery tours, and virtual studio visits with established ceramic artists. Under the leadership, guidance, and keen instruction of program head Ursula Hargens, MN NICE strives to prepare artists both artistically and professionally, whether they are seeking gallery representation, applying for graduate school, or selling work to the public.

Our exhibiting MN NICE emerging artists joined this program because a horizon line was taking shape for them, and they felt compelled to pursue a sharpened focus. They made an intense commitment to bring their work under a collective critical eye in the hopes of stepping toward a new future on terms they have defined through this program, with a new professional peer network, and a deeper understanding of the potential held by a daily life engaged in contemporary ceramics.

About the Artists

Maggie Archbold is an artist born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. She explores her creativity through small-scale earthenware sculptures. Her work is as curious and lively as she is. In addition to sculpture, Archbold also explores creativity through creative writing, fashion, photography, and music. The space between her and these different disciplines interests her. Additionally, her upbringing in Minnesota instilled a love for nature which she carries into her work through textures, tones, and patterns.

Kim Hamilton is a ceramic artist who grew up around the Twin Cities. She has approximately 10 years of ceramic experience. Her current work is on narrative vessels and sculptures. She studied anthropology/archeology in college, and human folklore and religious thinking heavily influences her art. She is also a healthcare worker.

Shawn Kelly started working with clay in high school. Over the years, Kelly has had the opportunity to learn from accomplished instructors in clay studios across the country. In 2018, Kelly started Lime Knot Pottery in Plymouth, Minnesota focusing on selling fun, functional, ceramic-ware both online and to local shops. Lime Knot Pottery was recently featured in the April/May 2021 edition of Plymouth Magazine. Kelly is currently enrolled in MN NICE, where he continues to evolve as a potter. Kelly’s current work explores grit and grace—the intersection of balance, movement, and strength.

Alex Lange is a functional potter living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Lange began his work as a maker studying dance at Luther College. He takes his experience with the body into his pots, focusing on the touch of maker and user as he creates objects for daily use. His functional forms focus on the liveliness, joy, and energy of pots used for everyday rituals. Lange started his work in clay in the vibrant Powderhorn Park pottery community and has continued his development at the Northern Clay Center in MN NICE.

Sheila Murray, born in Dublin and raised and educated in County Galway, Ireland, has been living in Minnesota since 2009. She works part-time as a paraprofessional with high-needs children. Murray’s ceramic story began in 2016 in local community evening classes. She has since continued her ceramic education through studio classes at Northern Clay Center, and this year, she completed the MN NICE program. Murray has exhibited her work at the Ceramics Ireland Annual Exhibition (Dublin).

Melvin North is a potter in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he has a studio. As an artist, he depends on the natural environment for both materials and inspiration. He attempts to instill a sense of the passage of time, changing seasons, and erosion and decay in his work, all of which give texture and character to the pieces. North graduated from Milwaukee School of Art and Design (Milwaukee) in 1984. He has also studied at Northern Clay Center for the past fifteen years, attending many classes, lectures, and seminars.

Joe Tashjian is a late-blooming ceramic artist from St. Paul, Minnesota. Currently, Tashjian works at his home studio and at Northern Clay Center. He primarily makes high-fire, porcelain, wheel-thrown, functional pots decorated with carving or sgraffito. As an accomplished photographer, Tashjian uses his photographs as inspiration for decoration. He continues to develop his artistic skills through courses, research, and enrollment in MN NICE.

Virtual Tour