Conversations on Clay – C43W05-20

Date: Oct 19 - Apr 07, 2021

Skill Level(s): open to all i

Instructor(s): Ben Carter, Jennifer Ling Datchuk, Kukuli Velarde, Elyse Pignolet, Garth Johnson, Kathy King and Nathan Murray

Price Option(s):
$600 — Reduced Tuition (COVID-19 Artist Relief Offer)
$1,250 — Full Price Tuition (For those able to pay at this time)

Students may choose to pay the Reduced Tuition or the Full Price Tuition. Additional need-based scholarships available upon request.


Anderson Ranch invites you to join our online community to engage in a rigorous and stimulating Critical Dialog Program about the exciting world of contemporary ceramics. Through lectures and discussion each Monday and Wednesday (twice a month for seven months), we connect to embark on a variety of topics that are crucial to today’s field of ceramics, giving participants the opportunity to reflect conceptually on this hands-on medium. This fall and winter we focus on the potential for ceramics to be socially engaging. Presenting artists join us in our dialog whose work plays an interactive role.


October 19 & 21 – Ben Carter – The Story of American Ceramics

Potter and social historian Ben Carter presents a lecture on “The Story of American Ceramics”. Based on his first-person interviews of over three hundred ceramic artists, Carter discusses the growth of studio ceramics in the United States since the 1990’s and the issues that artists face in our current time.

Ben Crater is a studio potter, educator, and social media enthusiast based in Farmingdale, NJ. He received his MFA from the Universality of Florida. He has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Archie Bray Foundation and Anderson Ranch Arts Center. He has lectured and exhibited widely in United States, Canada, China, Australia and New Zealand. Ben is the creator and host of Tales of a red clay rambler podcast.

November 9 & 11 – Jennifer Ling Datchuk – The Personal in Porcelain

Datchuk discusses how her studio practice is informed by the power of materials like porcelain, hair, and domestic objects.  We explore how research, personal narratives, lived experiences, and oral histories are foundations for making work about identity.

Jennifer Ling Datchuk works with porcelain and other materials often associated with traditional women’s work – such as textiles and hair, to discuss fragility, beauty, femininity, intersectionality, identity and personal history. She holds an MFA in Artisanry from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. In 2017, she received the Emerging Voices award from the American Craft Council and was named a United States Artist 2020 Fellow in Craft. She is an Assistant Professor of Ceramics at Texas State University.

December 7 & 9 – Kukuli Velarde – We, The Colonized Ones

Kukuli Velarde talks about her feminist ceramic reinterpretations of pre-Columbian sculptures and what prompted their historical and social concerns. She discusses themes of identity and cultural appropriation, and how social injustice has fueled her work in recent decades.

Kukuli Velarde is a Peruvian artist based in the United States since 1987. She has received awards and grants such as the Guggenheim Fellowship (New York- 2015), the Pollock Krasner Foundation grant (New York- 2012), the United States Artists-Knight fellowship (California- 2009), the Pew fellowship in Visual Arts (Pennsylvania- 2003), the Anonymous is a Woman award (New York- 2000), the Joan Mitchell Foundation grant (New York- 1997), among others. In 2013 her project CORPUS received the Grand Prize at the Gyeonggi Ceramics Biennial in South Korea.

January 11 & 13 – Elyse Pignolet – You Should Calm Down: #Pottery is Political

Elyse Pignolet explores how engaging with social issues through her artwork is a way of confronting current political and social injustices. Pignolet discusses the potential for socially committed ceramics addressing themes in her work that deal with female transgression and empowerment, the dialectic between feminism and misogyny, inequality, gender stereotypes, and sexual harassment. She also asks: how does social media play a role in this 20,000-year-old medium?

Elyse Pignolet is an American with Filipino heritage, living and working in Los Angeles. She completed her BFA degree in ceramics at CSU Long Beach. Exploring the boundaries between ceramics, painting and sculpture, Pignolet attempts to place the permanence and traditions of ceramics with the fleeting and transitory nature of the contemporary world. Her work is in public collections including Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Achenbach Foundation, San Francisco, CA.

February 8 & 10 – Garth Johnson – No Food in the Galleries: Reinventing the Museum Café

Garth Johnson guides us through the Everson Museum of Art’s new project “No Food in the Galleries: Reinventing the Museum Café”. The project uses the Museum café to change the way the Museum shows its ceramics and relates to the public. Garth discusses and present a rogue’s gallery of potters who place radical hospitality at the core of their practice.

Writer, curator, and educator Garth Johnson is the Paul Phillips and Sharon Sullivan Curator of Ceramics at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York. Johnson is a self-described craft activist who explores craft’s influence and relevance in the 21st century. His recent exhibitions at the Everson include Renegades & Reformers: American Art Pottery, Earth Piece: Conceptual and Performative Works in Clay and Key Figures: Representational Ceramics 1932-1972.

March 8 & 10 – Kathy King – TMI? Gender and Sexuality in Ceramics

Take a brief tour through the history of ceramics to the contemporary to investigate gender and sexuality within ceramics as it pertains to the time and culture in which it was made. King then turns that lens toward her own narrative imagery intended to provoke impressions of gender, sexuality, and the influence of popular culture on our sense of self.

Kathy King has worked for twenty-five years exploring her personal narratives based on feminism, gender and sexuality presented through carvings on utilitarian vessels, mixed media installation and printmaking. King is both the Director of the Harvard Ceramics Program and a studio artist in the Boston area.

April 5 & 7 – Nathan Murray – BIPOC of Nebraska

Nathan Murray talks about his experiences creating figurative ceramic work that touches on societal issues of race by representing the stories and experiences of BIPOC Nebraskans in clay.  He explores the need for intersectional activism and creating ties of mutual support, along with the unique role art can play in engaging with people of diverse identities.  Nathan discusses the importance of representation, finding inspiration within the process of creating his work.

Nathan Murray is a socially engaged artist and educator living in Lincoln, NE.  Nathan received his MFA from University of Florida. He has been an artist in residence at the Lux Center for the Arts, NE, He exhibits work nationally and has been widely published in magazines, books and online.

Additional Information: This workshop will meet 3 – 4PM MST on Mondays and Wednesdays. Zoom Video Conferencing software (download free from will be used to facilitate the class sessions.

Further details will be emailed to registrants.


The Crossroads by Nathan Murray

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