Six McKnight Artists

Main & Galusha Galleries
Summer Open House: July 9

In 2022, the Center’s annual McKnight Artist exhibition will provide the unique opportunity to view works by the 2022 recipients of the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Ceramic Artists, Mike Helke (Stillwater, MN) and Juliane Shibata (Northfield, MN), as well as the 2021 recipients of the McKnight Artist Residency for Ceramic Artists: Ashwini Bhat (Penngrove, CA), Hyang Jin Cho (Fort Collins, CO), Tom Hubbard (Attleboro, MA), and Roberta Massuch (Philadelphia, PA). This exhibition, supported by the McKnight Foundation, showcases the success of each artist’s fellowship or residency.

About the Artists

Ashwini Bhat
An artist born in southern India, Bhat currently lives and works in the Bay Area of California. Coming from a background in literature and classical Indian dance, she now works in ceramics, sculpture, installation, and performance. Bhat often introduces radical, but somehow familiar, forms to suggest complex interplay between the landscape, the human, and the non-human. Exploring the deep relationship between the constructed and the inherited, Bhat creates sculptural pieces to invite viewers to view them in the round, and to interact with the revealed and the hidden. Trained in wheel-throwing methods, Bhat made the conscious decision to begin working as a handbuilder to better articulate her passion for form. Creating sculptural pieces that draw attention to the overall movement and physical engagement with the materials through fingertip depressions, scrapes, and dents—more than what have become standard references to contemporary theory and various isms—Bhat’s work addresses concerns that are distinctively international. She notes, “If I speak several languages, if I can call on resources in literature and dance, perhaps I can use this distinctive experience in my ceramic work to break down some of the borders that keep feeling, empath, even beauty bound.” Prior to her career as a visual artist, Bhat studied and performed Indian classical dance, known as Bharata Natyam, as part of the Padmini Chettur Dance Company and later received her MA in literature from Bangalore University (Bengaluru, Karnataka, India). Studying ceramics alongside Ray Meeker at Golden Bridge Pottery (Puducherry, India), she has participated in numerous residency programs around the world including those at Tin Shed Pottery (Deloraine, Australia), FuLe International Ceramic Art Museums (Fuping, China), Gustin Ceramics (South Dartmouth, MA), UMASS Dartmouth (New Bedford, MA), and Red Lodge Clay Center (Red Lodge, MT).

Bhat is a recipient of the Howard Foundation Award for Sculpture. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and can be seen in collections at the Newport Art Museum (USA), Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park (Japan), FuLe International Ceramic Art Museum (China), the Watson Institute at Brown University (USA), New Bedford Historical Society (USA), Daugavpils Mark Rothko Centre (Latvia), and many private collections. Her sculpture has also been widely reviewed and featured in Los Angeles Review of Books (USA), Alta Journal (USA), Brooklyn Rail (USA), Lana Turner: a Journal of Poetry and Opinion (USA), Riot Material (USA), Ceramic Art and Perception (USA/Australia), Ceramics Ireland (Ireland), New Ceramics (Germany), Caliban (USA), Crafts Arts International (Australia), The Studio Potter (USA), American Craft Council (USA), Logbook (Ireland), and Ceramics Monthly (USA).

Hyang Jin Cho
A ceramic artist, researcher, and educator, Cho has been developing her practice, knowledge, and understanding of the arts in academia since 1991. Cho utilized the time, space, community, and support that the McKnight Artist Residency for Ceramic Artists provided and noted that the opportunity provided her the chance to “develop my structures further to create objects examining cultural diversity in the US.” Drawing from the community in which she is immersed, “the structures would represent a land as a home where people with diverse backgrounds could enjoy their lives together.”

Cho is enthusiastic about continuing the development of her work and exploring the cultural diversity in the United States. Exploring themes of diversity and community, her work is composed of modules that suggest human relations and interdependency in our society. Representing the vulnerability of the individual, each component is connected to the next, holding one another, and functioning as a member of a larger system to survive together.

In addition to her residency at Northern Clay Center, Cho completed residencies at the European Ceramic Work Center (Oisterwijk, the Netherlands) and Smokestack Pottery (Fort Collins, CO). She received her BA in archeology and art history in 1991 and her MA in art history in 1995 from Seoul National University (South Korea). Continuing her studies as a postgraduate foreign research student and PhD candidate within the department of art history at the University of Tokyo, Cho turned her academic focus to a more tactile experience as an undergraduate student at Colorado State University (Fort Collins). Over the course of her career, Cho has exhibited work, completed projects and residencies, and published in Korea, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States.

Mike Helke
Exploring his interest in the role of pots as both historic and contemporary vehicles to facilitate and share culture, Helke creates functional forms to encourage the user to think, feel, question, and wonder how things could be, rather than how they should be. Connecting a vessel with personal experience and a broad array of subject matter, his compositions are created to activate a call and response relationship between the maker, the object, and its user.

Helke grew up in Minnesota’s St. Croix Valley where he still resides with his wife and two sons in Stillwater, MN. He received his BFA in ceramics with a minor in American studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2005 and his MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2011. Throughout his career, he has remained active as an educator through faculty postings at various institutions including, but not limited to, Northern Clay Center, University of Minnesota, Carleton College (Northfield, MN), Anderson Ranch Art Center (Snowmass Village, CO), and University of Wisconsin-River Falls where he is an assistant professor. Additionally, Helke has led workshops, demonstrations, and lectures at locations across the United States including Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge), Utah State University (Logan), Pottery Northwest (Seattle, WA), Harvard University (Boston, MA), Red Lodge Clay Center (MT), and Morean Center for Clay (St. Petersburg, FL).

In addition to inclusion in both local and national publications, Helke has received recognition for his work through awards such as the Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation Award (2006), the Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant (2008), and a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant (2017). In 2020, Helke was a United States Artist Fellowship nominee. He is actively represented by various galleries including The Clay Studio (Philadelphia, PA), Lillstreet Art Center (Chicago, IL), and Lucy Lacoste Gallery (Concord, MA). Helke’s work has been exhibited a venues including ClayAkar (Iowa City, IA), Museum of Contemporary Craft (Portland, OR), TRAX Gallery (Berkley, CA), Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge), Weisman Art Museum (Minneapolis, MN), and Huntington Museum of Art (Huntington, WV).

Tom Hubbard
Allowing each project to evolve organically, Hubbard approaches his work with foundations built through his design training and strong belief that the solution is often derived from the problem in question. Through a diligent process of inquiry, research, and immersion, he explores, interprets, and distills visual opportunities into solutions that are specific, unique, and meaningful. Informed by current events, and exploring themes of loss, memory, and the passage of time, Hubbard aims to allow the viewer to freely interpret his abstract forms that reference industrial implements to discern their forms, markings, and meanings.

Hubbard received his BFA from Indiana University Bloomington and has continued to interact with myriad colleges, universities, museums, and institutions to present lectures and workshops. Over the course of his career, Hubbard has been awarded numerous grants, residencies, and honors including an Individual Artists Grant by the Indiana Arts Commission in 2004, Open Studio Residency at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in 2014, and named Merit Fellow & Resident Artist at The Steel Yard in 2019. Additionally, he has received recognition through numerous print and broadcast sources including The Indianapolis Star, Chicago Sun Times, The Hague/Amsterdam Times, The Veteran, Ceramics Monthly, Ceramics: Art & Perception, and TEDx Augusta. Hubbard’s work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions nationally and internationally at venues including the Herron School of Art (Indianapolis, IN), National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum (Chicago, IL), Haagse/Kunstkring (Den Haag, the Netherlands), Kent State University (OH), and the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (IN) with works additionally included in various collections including the Chicago Public Library (IL), University of Saint Francis (Fort Wayne, IN), the Robby Poblete Foundation (Vallejo, CA), and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art (IN).

Roberta Massuch
Influenced heavily by the architecture of her surroundings, Massuch creates functional pottery, sculptural vessels, and installations with evident reflection on construction techniques and the presence of hand. Utilizing the interplay of adjacent surface colors, she establishes a comparison to individuals and human interaction. Her incorporation of the step motif serves as a metaphor for change. Leaving seams exposed as evidence of construction, her work allows the viewer opportunity to ascertain the interaction of individual components and reference to their structural influence.

Massuch received her BFA in ceramics from Northern Illinois University (DeKalb) in 2005 and her MFA from Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) in 2013. In addition to posts as an instructor at The Clay Studio (Philadelphia, PA), Tyler School of Art (Philadelphia, PA), and the Community College of Philadelphia (PA), she has received awards including the Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant in 2009, the Independence Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship in 2015, and further recognition through publications such as Clay Times, Ceramics Monthly, Musing About Mud, and various exhibition catalogs through The Clay Studio. Massuch’s work has been exhibited at universities, institutions, galleries, and museums across the United States including Northern Clay Center (Minneapolis, MN), Appalachian Center for Craft (Smithville, TN), Worcester Center for Craft (MA), The Clay Studio, Philadelphia Museum of Art (PA), Goggleworks Center for the Arts (Reading, PA), and the Visual Arts Center of Richmond (VA).

Juliane Shibata
Shibata’s installation-based compositions investigate the contrast between the transience of nature and the relative stability of fired ceramics. These pieces, which incorporate both real flowers and plants and their ceramic counterparts, allude to memento mori and aim to create an awareness of the fleeting nature of our existence. Over the course of the installation, the living components gradually decay, while the porcelain emerges more boldly. Shibata’s work is informed by Japanese concepts of beauty, such as wabi-sabi aesthetics of imperfection and impermanence, and the profound grace of yūgen. She creates immersive environments in which color, the transformation of real botanical materials, and the rhythm of repeated forms, all combine to impact the viewer.

Shibata received her BA from Carleton College (Northfield, MN) and her MFA from Bowling Green State University (OH). She has held various academic positions at Ox-Bow School of Art (Saugatuck, MI), Tennessee Tech University (Smithville), Hope College (Holland, MI), the College of St. Benedict & St. John’s University (St. Joseph and Collegeville, MN), and Carleton College (Northfield, MN). She has been an artist-in-residence at The Pottery Workshop (Jingdezhen, China), the College of Biological Sciences Conservatory at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and the Appalachian Center for Craft (Smithville, TN). In 2016, she co-curated Michi–Distinctive Paths, Shared Affinity: An Exhibition of Japanese American Ceramic Artists, which traveled across the U.S. She received Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grants in 2014, 2018, and 2020, the first-place award at the 62nd Arrowhead Regional Biennial at the Duluth Art Institute, and the Tile Heritage Prix Primo award at the 23rd Annual San Angelo National Ceramic Competition, and was named one of Ceramics Monthly’s Emerging Artists in 2016.

In addition to curatorial projects, community and civic engagement efforts, and publications as both artist and author, Shibata’s work has been included in over 50 invitationals, juried, and solo exhibitions since 2010. Her works have been commissioned by the Four Seasons Hotel (Minneapolis, MN), Abbott Northwestern Hospital (Minneapolis, MN), and K’ul Chocolate (Minneapolis, MN) and has pieces in the collections of the Brown-Forman Corporation (Louisville, KY), Northern Arizona University Art Museum (Flagstaff), the Ron Gallas Ceramic Cup Library at St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN), and the Perlman Teaching Collection at Carleton College (Northfield, MN).

Related Events

McKnight Open House & Summer Pottery Sale
Come celebrate the summer season and the opening of Northern Clay Center’s annual Six McKnight Artists exhibition in person for the first time in three years! Join our community of clay lovers for an afternoon open house and pottery sale. See the works of talented mid-journey artists from across the country and around the world. Partake in community, fun, and hands-on clay activities. Come celebrate the exhibition artists, the Clay Center community, our studio artists, and the amazing Seward Neighborhood that is our home!

Join us for our first annual Summer Pottery Sale! There will be an eclectic offering of pots from our ReCollect program, the proceeds of which benefit our Emerging Artist Residency grants. For the first time, we will feature works from several private collectors, so plan to arrive early to enjoy this limited opportunity.

We are also happy to welcome back the treasured annual tradition of the Studio Artist Sale and celebrate the artwork of several of the artists who work, glaze, and fire at the Clay Center!

Saturday, July 9, 1 – 4 pm

Six McKnight Artists Drop-in Workshop
Visit NCC for an afternoon of clay-centric fun—featuring a handbuilding activity/making station. Drop in for this free hands-on activity any time between 1 and 4 pm! Space is limited to eight participants at the making station at a time. There will be 30-minute sign-up sessions on the day of the event.

AAH7: In-person, Saturday, July 9, 1 – 4 pm

Six McKnight Artists Virtual Tour and Hands-on Workshop
Tune in with a friend or a family member for a 30-minute virtual tour of the exhibition Six McKnight Artists, featuring recent artwork by two 2022 McKnight Fellowship recipients from Minnesota, and four 2021 McKnight Artist Residents. The remaining time will be spent learning handbuilding and decorating techniques to create a one-of-a-kind ceramic work of art—in the comfort of your own home!

AAH8: Virtual, Friday, July 29, 2 – 4 pm

Virtual Tour


Purchase Work

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, we’ll be happy to help!