2016 was a great year for contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art. To celebrate we’re counting down some of our favorite posts from the year. We ran our “Potters to Watch” list last year around this time. How did things shake out? Let us know what you think in the comments.
In October we put out a call for potters, asking our readers to submit their own work and recommend their favorite artists for publication on cfile.daily – the response was overwhelming. We reviewed more than 1,100 submissions putting a massive amount of potters in front of our editorial team. We looked at every one, and with your help, we have found some of the most exciting potters working around the world. This is the first of many posts that we have planned for 2016 using your submissions as a supplement to our own research. You can always reccomend work for us to review here!
To celebrate the incoming new year, we have put together a list of 15 Potters to Watch in 2016. These are the potters who are making moves. Some are in graduate programs and taking huge strides, some are mid-career and working on exciting new projects, others are potters in the periphery who we think are on the edge of breakthrough. You will recognize some that we have covered before on cfile.daily, but most are new faces. We have included links and info about each potter and encourage you to explore their work further on their websites and on social media. Please remember that these artists are being presented equally, not in hierarchical order, because their radically different directions, goals, and aesthetics.
We use the term “pottery” and “potter” extremely loosely. Some of these are sculptors that use pots as a conceptual element in their work, some are painters that use vessels as a canvas, and others are traditional functional studio potters. We have done our best to clarify each use of the terms in the descriptions of each artist’s work.
Mike Helke is an incredibly exciting potter to follow because his work is constantly shifting and changing. The change is not manic, or driven by fear of repetition. Instead, it is a continuous meditative curiosity of form, process, and surface. Jumping around his meticulously labeled time periods of work on his website exposes his relentless experimentation, not without failures, and his own visual language connecting the initially disparate series’. His 2015 work is his best yet, and we are looking forward to what his spring, summer, fall, and winter collections bring in 2016. Visit Helke’s Instagram for a more intimate look at his process.
An MFA candidate at Utah State, Matt Fiske is performing an impressive balancing act of historically rooted forms and glazes, an interest in local and forged materials, and a surprising nod to modern design in the finished pieces. If your first impression of Fiske is his blog, filled with his geological excavation escapades, you may expect his work to be crunchy woodfired pottery; the type of work that the forms and surfaces are an afterthought to a true passion in geology and neat looking rocks. It’s beautiful to then see his portfolio which proves a rounded and thoughtful practice, including clean celadon glazed porcelain forms suitable for a modern design showroom.
“Noah Riedel approaches his ceramic design with without preconceptions of the rules of the material. Expected traits of functional-ware are missing from his practice, the glossy surfaces, solid fluid colors, and even typical production methods. I don’t imagine Riedel has anything against them, he’s just found a better way. The result of his objective approach to ceramic process is a unique and diverse aesthetic experience rarely achieved in functional pottery.”
Jessica Putnam Phillips
The combination of a brilliant illustration skills, conceptual use of pottery, and modern themes have found Jessica Putnam Phillips huge art world success in 2015. Her work was recently a part of the exhibition “Art, and Other Tactics: Contemporary Craft by Artist Veterans” at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, CA, one of nine exhibitions Putnam-Phillips participated in this year. This past fall she attended the prestigious residency program, A.I.R. Vallauris in the South of France, spending September and October creating a new series of work culminating in an international exhibition.
Jin Eui Kim
This London-based Op Art ceramicist is creating confusing holes in reality all over Europe. We first met Jin Eui Kim at Ceramic Art London 2015 where we learned about his contemporary pottery practice and architectural painting installation in London. His forthcoming exhibition schedule is impressive, including a show at Puls Contemporary Ceramics in Brussels, Belgium in January 2106.
Since graduating in 2011 from Utah State University, Perry Haas has been in an intense development period. He is a wood fire potter carving out a niche in a realm where it is difficult to differentiate oneself from the sea of brown pottery, a result of a love for the process and lifestyle. In just the past 4 years he has attended residencies at the Clay Studio of Missoula, Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana, the Guldafergaard International Ceramic Research Center in Denmark, and The Archie Bray Foundation, where he currently works and will remain through 2016.
Lugo may have been the most talked about ceramic artist within the ceramic community of 2015. He launched into the spotlight with this moving NCECA Emerging artist speech and gained more momentum in his solo exhibition with Ferrin Contemporary this past summer. He is not slowing down, and you can keep up with his sense of humor on Instagram (littered with ridiculous pottery-themed memes), between his powerful exhibitions confronting racial inequality and other pressing social issues.
Aside from making exquisite work combining atmospheric surfaces and graphic accents, Tom Jaszczak is in the midst of some very exciting career moves. He has just settled at Penland School of Craft for a 3-year residency and is preparing for a 2-month hiatus to Taiwan as resident at the Yingge Museum in Taipei. Additionally, (SPOILER) he will be presenting and an NCECA Emerging Artist in March, 2016.
When consulting with professionals in the field, Didem Mert came up repeatedly. Mert is an ambitious young potter, current MFA caudate at Edinboro University, making playful handbuilt functional-ware. She is one-half of The M&M Clay and Food Porn Project, a pottery+food photography collaboration endeavor with culinary artist Lydia Bungart-Morrison. You can follow her work on Instagram, where she has an impressive following.
Brian Rochefort’s Gloop sculptures “represent a relentless material romance.” His work has been massively popular in the past year, penetrating the fine art world exhibiting at The Armory Show, NYC, Monte Vista Projects, Los Angeles; California, The Kitchen, NYC, The Cabin, Los Angeles, and Harper’s Books at Miami Art Week.
Japanese artist Takuro Kuwata graduated from Kyoto Saga Art College, with a degree in Ceramics Arts in 2001 and has quickly become a worldwide ceramic phenomenon. His show at Salon 94 this past summer exposed an intensive new material exploration for the artist, exaggerating the material phenomenon of clay and glaze to a creepy, seductive place.
Although he’s not a “potter” in the traditional sense, New York-Based artist JJ PEET uses the cup as a conceptual element in his diverse art practice. He deals with themes challenging consumerism and class systems through performance, video, and sculpture. 2015 brought two major acclaimed exhibitions, Satan Ceramics, at Solon 94, and Brain to Hand to Object, at Austin Contemporary.
“In ceramics, a thought or feeling goes from your brain or your gut, through your hands, and into the object. There is no interference, and that’s what I love about the material.” (JJ PEET)
With his minimalist-pop tea bowls and seductive dripping glaze, Branan Mercer his the talk of the contemporary pottery world. He caught our attention when his show at The Nevica Project (nearly) sold out long before the closing. He is currently working in Birmingham, Alabama and is represented by The Kiln Studio and Gallery, Red Dot Gallery, Northern Clay Center, and The Nevica Project.
Kyle Carpenter is a studio potter in Asheville, North Carolina. He has worked there since 2002 refining his craft and successfully becoming a praised artist in the extremely competitive local and national pottery scenes. You can find his work in 2016 at Schaller Gallery, the St. Croix Pottery Tour, an Invitational exhibition at Asheville Arts Council, and at the Potters Market Invitational, or visit his studio and gallery in Asheville’s River Arts District.
Benjamin Cirgin is a current MFA candidate at California College of the Arts who works in functional pottery, sculpture, and installation. We partnered with Cirgin for a pop-up shop earlier this month, which sold out in less than 24 hours.
“Inspiration for Electric Eve came from Cirgin’s father’s stories about late night fishing trips to a limestone quarry as a child. This series of cups, made with carved black clay, are an imagining of what his father’s experiences could have been like: the colorful lake at dusk, the limestone walls at night, the stillness, and the intimacy.” (Read More…)
Looking forward to contemporary ceramic art in 2016? Let us know in the comments.