A Gathering: Works from ‘Contemporary Black American Ceramic Artists’

SEPTEMBER 17 – OCTOBER 30
Virtual Tour available September 23
Public Reception: Friday, October 7, 6 – 8 pm, indoors and masks required
Main Gallery



On view this fall, in the main gallery at Northern Clay Center, is an exhibition of historical significance—A Gathering: Works from ‘Contemporary Black American Ceramic Artists’. Curated by donald a clark and Chotsani Elaine Dean, it is an exhibition that brings to life the pages of their newly-published book, Contemporary Black American Ceramic Artists.

Artists featured in this exhibition:
Larry Allen, Ebitenyefa Baralaye, Kristina Batiste, Tricia Bishop, Paul S. Briggs, Rich Brown, Wesley T. Brown, Aaron Caldwell, Kimmy Cantrell, Danielle Carelock, Jstn Clmn, Chotsani Elaine Dean, Morel Doucet, Michelle Roxana Ettrick, Rosa Eugene, Winton Eugene, Earline M. Green, Aisha Harrison, David R. MacDonald, Jim McDowell, Nathan Murray, Sharon Norwood, Kelly Phelps, Kyle Phelps, Stephen Phillips, Ashlyn Pope, Ashan Pridgon, Joann Quiñones, Ellamaria Foley-Ray, Prof. Bobby Scroggins, Janathel Shaw, Keith Wallace Smith, Malcolm Mobutu Smith, Lydia C. Thompson, Paul Andrew Wandless, James C. Watkins, and Adero Willard.

Curator Statement
“This is our story of how the exhibition, A Gathering, came into existence…

Our journey did not begin at the same starting point for the book, Contemporary Black American Ceramic Artists, and exhibition project. We didn’t set out to create an exhibition. We just wanted to turn in a strong and polished manuscript to our book publisher on time. The goal was merely to make a printed exhibition of the work of contemporary Black American ceramic artists. However, our story ends with us together and with a completed book that produced a beautiful exhibition.

While producing the manuscript, we found we couldn’t leave well enough alone. At the end of work sessions, we would find ourselves energized with a repeated tendency to dream and imagine what was possible reflecting on the exceptional quality of the artists’ work they provided us to write about in the book we were creating. Also, we felt their stories, and the time they shared with us, was so valuable we wanted to expand the way the world could engage and experience the artists.

It is important to note that the making of this exhibition and the book that birthed it all occurred during the global Coronavirus pandemic and racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, witnessed by the world. Launching this book with the exhibition, A Gathering, in Minneapolis is an important piece of this story. With Chotsani’s established relationship with Northern Clay Center and living in Minneapolis, our goal all along was to get the work of a group of underserved makers before the eyes of as many people as possible.

We worked fully socially-distanced for the entirety of creating the book. For the two of us, there were numerous phone calls with artists in the book, scholars, and our editor. Hours of Zoom meetings, creating and clicking through Google drive folders, and edited Google documents to build the DNA of the book, eventually produced the exhibition titled, A Gathering.

The physical manifestation of the book as an exhibition provides the world a bonus opportunity to engage with and view the artists’ work. This exhibition expands the book’s impact by bringing words and images off the page into the gallery space for amplified visibility of the artists and their artworks.

What does the exhibition, A Gathering, represent for us? Hope, in spite of the ambiguity of plans falling apart as well as being disrupted by the pandemic; an act of faith, that in times of turbulence, the pursuit of bringing artists and their work together can ignite change; a space and invitation for viewers to be in conversation with the artists; and an opportunity to see a diverse spectrum of work made by Black Americans who all came to clay in their own way.”
—donald a clark
Chotsani Elaine Dean

From the Publisher of Contemporary Black American Ceramic Artists by donald a clark, Chotsani Elaine Dean
“Sharing their insights in compelling interviews, 38 of today’s Black ceramists demonstrate a diversity of studio practices and ways of using clay, together with more than 250 stunning photos of their work. Especially crucial in light of the times, this book helps disperse the fog of non-inclusion. With the goal of giving the artists the recognition long overdue them, donald a clark and Chotsani Elaine Dean begin by grounding us in history and context. The authors take us through time, explaining recent important research from Drayton Hall in South Carolina, for example, and other work that has helped to honor the contributions, presence, and experiences of African Americans in ceramic history in America. Bringing us to today, clark and Dean present for each of 38 contemporary ceramic artists an introduction, an interview with the artist, and photos highlighting some of their work. This important and necessary information, with its impact on the medium as a whole, is beautifully and engagingly presented to makers and craft appreciators alike.“
—Schiffer Publishing

The book is available for purchase at Northern Clay Center and online here.

Related Events

Black Bodies and Metaphor in Clay
Join A Gathering artists Ashlyn Pope and Sharon Norwood as they share about the ways they use clay as a tool of expression and celebration of Blackness and Black Bodies and the role that clay plays in this connection.

X14: Saturday, September 17, 5 pm CT, FREE
Register in advance for in-person or remote attendance

Virtual Tour of A Gathering: Works from ‘Contemporary Black American Ceramic Artists’ and Lisa Marie Barber
Join us over Zoom for a virtual tour of NCC’s exhibitions A Gathering: Works from ‘Contemporary Black American Ceramic Artists’ and Lisa Marie Barber.

22AAH9: Thursday, September 22, 6:30 pm, FREE
Register in advance

At the Precipice of Healing: Power and Change from Their Hands
A Gathering artists will come together to engage in meaningful discussion about their creative process in response to the collective trauma following the murder of George Floyd and a global pandemic. The deliberate presence of the exhibition in proximity to George Floyd Square has the intention of conversing with this trauma and negotiating the line of pain and hope, also serving as a place of healing and fellowship with the community. As contributors to this exhibition and conversation, these artists will share the ways in which they have persevered and reflected the pain and strength of Black artists and the Black community all amidst the realities of the pandemic. Listen and learn as they share how clay has carried them through and provided ways to speak to the history and realities of Black experiences in the US, and how they envision their work and our collective future moving forward.

This event will take place in the Waring Jones Theater at the Playwrights’ Center, 2301 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406. Masks and proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (two doses in a two-dose series or one dose in a one-dose series) are required for entrance into the event.

X15: Thursday, October 6, 6 – 7:30 pm CT, FREE
Register in advance for in-person or remote attendance

The Ever-present Strength, Power, and Longevity of Black Creative Labor
A Gathering artists, who all engage in clay and the educational system in different ways, will discuss creative Black labor and its inclusion and disintegration in history, culture and education. By discussing this history and sharing their own experiences in the field of ceramics and in various educational systems, they will offer multidimensional and expanded worldly perspectives by centering Black, African American and African history, art, and experience in American culture, education, and contemporary ceramics. As you engage in their conversation, you are invited to integrate their stories and envision a more comprehensive and inclusive human story and culture together. End the event by reflecting on the experience through a hands-on making activity with clay that will be fired and available for pick up at Northern Clay Center the following week.

This event is hosted in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Department of Art and Department of African American and African Studies and will take place in the In-Flux Room E110 on the University of Minnesota Campus, adjacent to the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, 405 21st Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55455.

X16: Saturday, October 8, 1 – 3 pm CT, FREE
Register in advance for in-person or remote attendance

Exhibition Tour
When the Minneapolis run of this exhibition concludes, NCC will facilitate its continued impact by traveling the exhibition to partners on both US coasts at the following locations:

May – August 2023
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA

September 2023 – March 2024
Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts
Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA

We extend our thanks to our partners at both locations—Scott Shields, Rachel Gotlieb, and Maggie North—for their incredible trust and support in this endeavor.

Virtual Tour

Catalog

A selection of work from the exhibition is available to purchase directly from our website. If you would like to enquire about work not online, please contact us at 612.339.8007, or salesgallery@northernclaycenter.org, we’ll be happy to help!