“Tradition and Intuition: Celebrating North Carolina Pottery” on Exhibit at the Barton Art Galleries

The exhibition, scheduled for March 17 through April 11, will feature works by Cynthia Bringle, Dan Finch, Brown Holloman, Daniel Johnston, Senora Richardson Lynch, Ben Owen, Jane Peiser, Ronan Kyle Peterson, Hiroshi Sueyoshi, Gertrude “Gay” Smith, Liz Summerfield, and Julie Wiggins.

“Tradition and Intuition: Celebrating North Carolina Pottery,” an invitational exhibition to be held at the Barton Art Galleries on the campus of Barton College, will showcase North Carolina’s rich diversity and history of pottery making, ranging from Native American pots, to the traditional utilitarian earthenware and stoneware of the Appalachian, piedmont and coastal plains. The exhibition, scheduled for March 17 through April 11, will feature works by Cynthia Bringle, Dan Finch, Brown Holloman, Daniel Johnston, Senora Richardson Lynch, Ben Owen, Jane Peiser, Ronan Kyle Peterson, Hiroshi Sueyoshi, Gertrude “Gay” Smith, Liz Summerfield, and Julie Wiggins. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held on Sunday afternoon, March 17, from 4-6 p.m. in the Barton Art Galleries in Case Art Building. There is no charge for the afternoon event, and the community is invited to attend. For additional information about the exhibition or opening reception, please contact Bonnie LoSchiavo in the Barton Art Galleries at 252-399-6477 or email: artgalleries@barton.edu.

On Sunday evening, March 17, at 5 p.m. the Barton Art Galleries and the Barton College Friends of Visual Arts will welcome Friends of Visual Arts members for a wine and cheese reception in the Barton Art Galleries. At 5:45 p.m., Barton Art Galleries and the Barton College Friends of Visual Arts will host a Panel Presentation in the Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell Theatre, featuring Dan Finch, Brown Holloman, Daniel Johnston, and Ben Own III. Dinner will immediately follow in the Bridgestone Americas Atrium of the Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell Theatre. The Barton College Friends of Visual Arts events are by invitation only to members. To make reservations for the panel discussion and dinner or to receive additional information about the Barton College Friends of Visual Arts, please contact Frances Belcher at 252-399-6357 or email: fbelcher@barton.edu. To join the Barton College Friends of Visual Arts, please also contact Frances Belcher at the above address.

Featured Artists —

Cynthia Bringle is a ceramic artist who lives and works in Penland. Her work represents more than 40 years of functional stoneware. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Memphis Academy of Art and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Alfred University. Mudfire Clayworks of Georgia recently described Bringle as “one of America’s preeminent potters and a legendary teacher whose sphere of influence stretches around the globe. She has been a role model for many aspiring ceramists, influencing the professional careers of countless American and international students. Her former students, many of whom have gone on to become noted potters themselves, describe Bringle’s work at the wheel as “making the clay sing in a rhythm that is a dance between her hands and the clay.” She is a fellow of the American Craft Council and a recipient of the North Carolina Award for Fine Art. Her work is in the collection of the Mint Museum of Craft and Design, Burlington Art Centre, and the High Museum of Art.

Dan Finch of Bailey is a master potter who produces unique rustic forms for his Toisnot Series from the local coastal plain’s mineral and marine sediment-rich Toisnot clay. Finch was exposed to clay while working the land on the family tobacco farm in Bailey. He continued his pottery education at the Penland School of Crafts in the mountains of North Carolina. There, Finch was influenced by Mary Law, Cynthia Bringle, Don Reitz, Jane Peiser, and Bob Turner. His work is extremely diverse; Finch throws miniature pots for children during demonstrations, 10-foot tall pots and 30 pound bowls in stoneware, and delicate pieces of porcelain. Finch shares, “By growing and learning one’s self, the clay is given life. And, when the clay is alive, it reflects the journey, philosophy, and personality of the potter.” Finch has also served as the Director of the North Carolina Pottery Center and President of the Village of Yesteryear at the North Carolina State Fair.

Ben Owen III is a potter from Seagrove. His forefathers came to North Carolina from England as early as the late 1700s to ply their craft and furnish storage jars and other utilitarian wares for the early settlers. Owens’ grandfather, master potter Ben Owen, Sr., admired early oriental pottery displayed in museums and collections, and he translated those works into his own style of pottery. Owen III’s work was influenced at an early age by his grandfather. He studied pottery as an apprentice with his grandfather and later at East Carolina University. Like his grandfather, Owen III’s pottery reflects a foundation of traditional designs as well as oriental translations. In later years, he traveled around the United States attending workshops and conferences and also abroad to Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and recently to China where he diversified his experience while taking advantage of an exchange program for visiting local artists.

Daniel Johnston of Seagrove is a professional potter who digs most of the materials he uses to make and glaze his pots. “The refining process is labor intensive, but the simplicity of mining clay and transforming it into useful and beautiful objects is greatly rewarding and fulfilling on many levels,” Johnston explains. “The local clay culturally offers a connection to the many potters that dug clay in the Seagrove area before me. The variation and inconsistency of minimally refined clay gives a richness and beauty to the pots. The glaze I use is a combination of wood ash from my wood stove, a local, red earthenware clay, and a local, stoneware clay. The idea of using wood ash and clay to create a glaze is several thousand years old. Different proportions of these two remarkable materials can give you a wide range of amazing results. These two seemingly simple materials have produced glazes throughout time that are unparalleled in diversity and beauty. It is important to me to create pots that are timeless but reflect the culture and times in which I live.” Johnston apprenticed with Mark Hewitt, of Pittsboro, and with Sawein Silakhom in Phon Bok, Northeast Thailand, as well as working with earthenware potter Clive Bowen of Shebbear Pottery in North Devon, England.

Brown Holloman, originally from Colerain, resides in Pinetops working as a studio potter. Holloman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and a Master of Fine Arts degree from East Carolina University. “I mostly work with high-fired stoneware clay, fired in a gas reduction kiln,” Holloman shares. “My vessels are either wheel-turned or hand-formed or combinations of both. A lot of my work is designed to be functional in nature, to be used on a daily basis in food preparation and presentation. A portion of my vessels are created to be strictly exercises in creating personally unique objects. My influences tend to come from the Orient, primitive tribal art, and contemporary ceramics.”  Holloman’s work has received mentions and awards over the years from events and shows held throughout the region, including the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh, the Mint Museum in Charlotte, and other local and regional art centers across the southeast. His studio and small gallery/shop is located in Pinetops, N.C.

Haliwa-Saponi potter Senora Richardson Lynch of Hollister is nationally known for her unique style of hand carved pottery featuring plant and animal patterns that have significance in Saponi traditions. Lynch builds her pots using the traditional coiling method, while decorating her work with Native American symbols and motifs of her childhood while growing up in The Meadows in Hollister. She has work on permanent display at the Museum of History in Raleigh and also in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. In 2007, she was the first Haliwa-Saponi to receive the prestigious North Carolina Heritage Award. Lynch is also featured in “Contemporary Pottery form North Carolina’s American Indian Communities” by Sally Peterson, folklife director with the North Carolina Arts Council.

Hiroshi Sueyoshi, a native of Tokyo, Japan, studied at Tokyo Aeronautical College and Ochanomizu Design Academy prior to becoming an apprentice with Daisei-Gama and Masanao Narui, in Mashiko, Japan in 1968. He came to the United States in 1971 to help design and build Humble Mill Pottery in Asheboro. Sueyoshi has made his home in North Carolina since 1973. He has worked with Seagrove Pottery as a production potter and with the Sampson Community College in Clinton as a pottery instructor. From 1976 to 1980, he worked as a visiting artist at Wilson Community College and at Cape Fear Community College in a program sponsored by the North Carolina Arts Council. Sueyoshi currently lives in Wilmington, where he is Artist-in-Residence at Cameron Art Museum. “I believe my inspiration is rooted in my Japanese aesthetic background which often reflects nature in art,” Sueyoshi shares. “My work depicts landscapes, movement, and harmony between nature and human forms. I also enjoy creating tension between inside spaces and outside spaces, which draws me to the challenge of creating vessels as sculptural forms.”  Sueyoshi has been included in many major pottery exhibitions, including Marietta College Crafts National in Marietta, Ohio, The Annual North Carolina Artists Exhibition, N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh, Biennial Exhibition of Piedmont Crafts, Mint Museum of Art, in Charlotte, and the American Porcelain Show, Renwick Gallery, in Washington, D.C.

Julie Wiggins of Charlotte works diligently to connect history and contemporary influences ranging from the Orient to Mexico. “I enjoy the process of creating objects that stimulate the sense of touch with focus on utility and form,” she explains. “My work consists of a variety of steps, from a treadle wheel to molds, to finishing the pots with drawings, glazing and firing. My surfaces include a hand drawn inlay and black slip for my imagery. My work is inspired by histories of environmental and architectural settings along with the repetition and quality of a line. The ceramic work I create is intended to be used in an everyday setting or for traditional use in the home.” Wiggins’ recent body of work is a reflection of her studies and travels. Her studies and travels have resulted in an honorary degree from the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in China, as well as trips through Europe, Mexico, and Morocco. These experiences have helped forge her creativity and continue to push her work into new directions that combine Eastern and Western influences.

Jane Peiser, from Penland, is known for her hand built salt-fired colored porcelain. Peiser describes herself as a self-taught potter, adding, “After two college degrees and eight years of teaching, I saw a used electric kiln advertised in the newspaper. By the time the day was over I had bought the kiln along with a bag of clay and several bottles of glazes. With one stroke, my life changed forever, and I have been eternally grateful for having found work that I love.” Peiser’s acceptance into the early Penland Resident Program helped her to understand and use gas kilns and Chinese painting. She also learned about glass Murrini techniques from former husband, glass artist Mark Peiser, and she adapted those techniques to colored porcelain fired in a salt kiln.

Ronan Kyle Peterson grew up in Poplar, a small community deep in the mountains of western North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Anthropology, with a minor in Folklore, in 1996. His interest in folklore led him to the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, where he began taking classes in ceramics and other media. After working two years with two potters in the Asheville area, Peterson attended Penland School of Crafts. Initially, he intended to stay for a two-month concentration in Wood and Soda Fired Pottery, but two months turned into four years. Currently, Peterson maintains Nine Toes Pottery, a ceramics studio in Chapel Hill, which produces highly decorative and functional earthenware vessels. His work is drawn from processes of growth and decay in the natural world and translated into a ceramic comic book interpretation of both real and imagined phenomena. His ceramic vessels have been shown in local and national exhibitions, including the 2008 Strictly Functional Pottery National in East Petersburg, Pa. Peterson was also invited to participate in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth Annual Potter’s Market Invitational at the Mint Museum in Charlotte. His work has been featured in both “Ceramics Monthly” and “Clay Times,” as well as in the books “500 Bowls” and “500 Plates and Chargers.”

Gertrude Graham Smith, nicknamed Gay, is a studio potter and teaching artist who single fires her porcelain ware in a soda kiln near Penland. As she describes her process, she explains, “My pottery is made of porcelain clay formed and altered on the potter’s wheel, glazed when leather-hard, and fired to cone 10 in a soda kiln. I utilize fire and kiln atmosphere to decorate my pots by creating responsive surfaces and forms. I am interested in the tactile quality of clay, and my pieces appeal to the sense of touch and the scale of the human hand. The pots look alive, a bit whimsical, and I intend that they will bring life, beauty, and years of enjoyment into the lives of those who use them.” Smith’s grant awards include a North Carolina Arts Council Visual Arts Fellowship in 2008-2009, and a Regional Artist Project Grant through the Asheville Area Arts Council in 2009-2010. She held artist-in-residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation and at Penland School. Her teaching credits include workshops at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School, the Harvard Ceramics Studio, and the Findhorn Foundation in Northern Scotland. Smith’s work is represented internationally and is in many collections including the Mint Museum in Charlotte and Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan. She was featured in “Ceramics Monthly” magazine in 2007 and 2010, and her work can be viewed in numerous publications including “Making Marks and Functional Pottery” by Robin Hopper, and “Working with Clay” by Susan Peterson.

Liz Summerfield currently resides in western North Carolina with her husband, Scott Summerfield and their daughter Roby. Summerfield and her husband are full-time artists working from their studios located at their home in Bakersville. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Summerfield has been a visiting artist and teacher at numerous clay facilities, colleges, and universities, and she exhibits her work nationally through exhibitions, galleries, and fine craft shows. Her work was featured on two magazine covers in 2009. Mudfire Clayworks of Georgia posted, “Liz Zlot Summerfield’s pots are functional, but everyday use is not her first concern. Her pots function fully just by being in someone’s home. Liz’s works are diminutive and intimate in size. The handmade objects are constructed with soft slabs and prominently feature the process marks that brought them to their final form. Liz draws color and pattern inspiration from her own collection of 50’s kitchen accoutrements (recipe boxes, aprons, etc.) and uses colored terra sigillata, glazes and metallic lusters to enhance her contemporary works of art.”