Director’s Report

As we enter then final months of 2021, we are provided the opportunity to pause and reflect upon the myriad challenges, successes, and milestones of the year. Throughout the entirety of the pandemic, our passionate commitment to protect the health and wellbeing of the entire community kept our in-person capacities at a safe level while building additional bandwidth to focus our efforts to nurture growth in ways that would make both our education and outreach programming more accessible to participants and the community.

With robust opportunities to attend classes and lectures remotely, as well as virtual tours of every exhibition in 2021, our community grew to include participants, both familiar and new to NCC, that spanned coast-to-coast and around the world, for a number of truly incredible events including the celebration of NCC’s 30th Anniversary with the exhibitions Pearl and How It’s Going and the 23rd Annual American Pottery Festival.

In the teaching studios, these efforts to increase accessibility extended beyond remote programming to include the introduction of a scholarship program created with the support of Nan Skelton in the name and memory of her husband and NCC Founding Director, Peter Leach. Alleviating some or all of the cost of programming for individuals who identify as BIPOC or as being in financial need, the Peter Leach Scholarship Fund helps to build the Center’s community by making programming more accessible.

Before officially closing out the year, there is still a great deal of activity taking place at NCC. Between the studios at full capacity, and offsite programming, students will be busy making through the early days of December, and studio artist will be working hard in preparation for the holiday season and spring sales.

Beginning on Sunday, November 14, Northern Clay Center will host our final exhibitions of the year, our annual exhibitions Holiday Exhibition and MN NICE Graduates installed in the Main and Emily Galusha Galleries. In addition to this fantastic opportunity to experience and handle new work while shopping for holiday gifts, NCC will be launching our year-end fundraising campaign to unite our community of supporters in bolstering our operations and mission.

Crossing the threshold into the new year, we are excited for the opportunities that 2022 has in store for NCC. While there will still be a number of adjustments as we, both as individuals and a community, continue to find a new and comfortable normal amidst an ever-evolving pandemic, our aim is to continue expanding our capacities in a safe and mindful manner.

Getting right to work at the beginning of January, our winter term will begin on January 3 with registration opening on November 30, 2021 at 10 am. Our year of exhibitions will begin on January 14 with our annual exhibition Emerging Artist Grant Recipients, and continue through the year with a number of exciting and engaging exhibition and related programming. Also at the beginning of the year, we will see the next grant application season, during which we will launch a new program in our continued efforts to address and solidify our approach to accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion. In its inaugural year, the BIPOC Studio Fellowship will support one emerging ceramic artist of color who is working in a functional, sculptural, relational, or installation-based manner.

Looking back at the accomplishments and milestones achieved in 2021, we are all incredibly grateful for your support. Whether as a donor, a volunteer, or program participant, each of you contributes to the remarkable work that our modest staff of 16 are able to bring to fruition on an annual basis. Thank you for being a part of our community and for continuing to play a role in the evolution of NCC’s future.

Kyle Rudy-Kohlhepp