Welcome to NewsFile, our aggregate from news from the world of contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art. Kicking us off this week is a missive from Chris Gustin, the co-founder of Watershed Ceramics. In October he was honored by the American Craft Council, who accepted them into their College of Fellows.
From Watershed Ceramics:
Chris grew up with clay in his blood, as his family co-owned several whiteware ceramic manufacturing companies in Los Angeles, CA. His love of clay developed early but it took his brother’s urging for Chris to pursue the artists’ path. He briefly worked for the family company as a factory foreman, but changed direction to attend college at Kansas City Art Institute and graduate school at Alfred University in the early 1970’s.
After completing his formal studies, Chris taught ceramics at a number of northeastern colleges and received several fellowships that helped establish his career in clay. He exhibited work extensively, both nationally and internationally, and eventually settled in South Dartmouth, Mass, where he still lives today. From 1989-1999 Chris served as Associate Professor of Ceramics at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. He retired from teaching in 1999 to pursue his own studio practice and run his custom tile production company full time.
Congratulations to Chris!
Aga Khan Award for Architecture Selects Brick Building
One of the six winners for the Aga Khan award for Architecture included this fabulous brick building, the Friendship Centre in Gaibandha, Bangladesh designed by Kashef Chowdhury. The brick building is a community center that incorporates regional flooding into the design by creating brick channels with roof landscaping. The prize was announced in October.
Microban Patents Antimicrobial Ceramics
From Ceramic Industry: Cleaner bathroom tiles are on the way!
Microban International has been granted two U.S. patents relating to antimicrobial technology in ceramics. These patents reportedly cover incorporating antimicrobials into ceramic-based products such as floor and wall tile, and sanitaryware.
“These patents cover the latest state-of-art approaches to creating antimicrobial ceramic surfaces and represent the culmination of seven years of research effort and more than $1 million in development costs,” said Ivan Ong, vice president of research and development. “Bringing this technology to ceramic products is another example of Microban combining science with creative approaches to develop inventive solutions. In addition, our antimicrobial technologies are structured to pass the new ASTM E3031 2015 test standard for evaluating antimicrobial performance of ceramic articles.”
New Sintering Tech for Ceramics is More Energy/Time Efficient
More news from the techy arm of the ceramics world: Researchers at Penn State University have come up with a new sintering technology that can combine ceramics with different types of materials, such as plastic. Probably not a great boon for the contemporary ceramic art world (though why rule out anything?) but definitely useful for industry, who now have an energy and time efficient way to craft new ceramic components. “Faster and cooler than it takes to bake a pizza,” is a great illustration.
This week, Penn State University (State College, Pa.) researchers announced they’ve developed a new technology called cold sintering process (CSP) that has the potential to “combine incompatible materials, such as ceramics and plastics, into new, useful compound materials” that will also reduce the costs associated with many types of manufacturing, according to a university press release.
Making ceramics and ceramic-based composites tends to require some serious heat—whether it’s firing pottery in a kiln or sintering ceramic powders using ultra-high temperature furnaces.
“In this day and age, when we have to be incredibly conscious of the carbon dioxide budget, the energy budget, rethinking many of our manufacturing processes, including ceramics, becomes absolutely vital,” ACerS member Clive Randall, professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State who developed the process with his team, says in the release. “Not only is this a low temperature process (room temperature up to 200ºC), but we are also densifying some materials to over 95% of their theoretical density in 15 minutes. We can now make a ceramic faster than you can bake a pizza, and at lower temperatures.”
Theaster Gates Launches Art Workforce Training Program
Checking in on one of our favorite artists, Theaster Gates, we have news from Chicago. Gates recently announced Dorchester Industries, an arm of Gates’ Rebuild Foundation, that provides workforce and artisan training to un and underemployed people on the South Side of Chicago. From Rebuild:
Dorchester Industries is a project of Rebuild Foundation that has grown out of the nonprofit’s workforce development programs. These programs connect contractors, master craftsmen and artists with residents of Chicago’s South Side to provide training in the building trades and creative industries. Leveraging the potential of art and design to create jobs and promote ethical redevelopment in Chicago, Rebuild’s pilot workforce development programs have focused on masonry, millwork, carpentry, and pottery—crafts and trades that are also a hallmark of founder Theaster Gates’ studio practice. The objects produced through the collaborative creative process are sold under the brand Dorchester Industries, with all proceeds supporting Rebuild’s work to promote culture-based, artist-led, neighborhood-driven community revitalization.
Dorchester Industries’ began with its carpentry program, developed in part as a response to the City of Chicago’s need to find sustainable uses for trees destroyed by the emerald ash borer beetle. These locally felled trees are turned into high-quality lumber, and then into hand-crafted products. The tabletops used at the Benefit are the product of the first three months of the program, and were designed and produced by Dave Correia, Tadd Cowen, Joseph Harris, Courtney Henderson, Michael Holliman, Daniel L. Newbill, Benjamin Sahagun, Ramyar Vala, and Khris Williams.
The program highlights the underlying vision of Rebuild Foundation as well as Gates’ social practice to use the arts as both a uniting force and economic driver within the South Side community—a model that in time could be replicated in other similar neighborhoods throughout the U.S. “It is unquestionably better to teach a person to do something than to do it for them, and that is the precept at the core of Dorchester Industries,” said Gates. “By providing workforce training in highly employable crafts such as carpentry or pottery work, we support the people in our community in real and tangible ways while also fostering an engagement and appreciation for a variety of artforms,” said Gates.
Do you love or loathe these briefs from the world of contemporary ceramics and contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.