Anika Major Solo Exhibition

Anika Major: Solo Exhibition May 13th @ noon CST
Justin Paik Reese: Solo Exhibition
Opened Wednesday April 13th @5pm

Spring Exhibition 2022: Sunday March 27th
Chanakarn Semachai, Anika Major, Kristen Kieffer, Kyle Scott Lee. Juan Barroso, Melissa Mytty, Wesley T. Brown, Carole Epp, Marissa Alexander, NOM Ceramics, Ashley Bevington, Kyounghwa Oh, Mike Cinelli, Zach Tate, Eric Botbyl, Rebecca Zweibel, Ian Childers.

FIGURATIVELY SPEAKING II: Yeonsoo Kim, Amy Smith, David Kring, Jamie Bates Slone, Nala C. Turner, Taylor Robenalt, Cristal Sabbagh, Mallory Wetherell, Kyungmin Park, Juan Barroso, & Carole Epp.

CLAY SIBLINGS Holiday Benefit Group Show: December 3rd

Ian Childers SOLO EXHIBITION: noon CST November29th


Marissa Y Alexander SOLO EXHIBITION

Chanakarn "Punch" Semachai Solo Exhibition
October 2021

RAW CLAY: Group Exhibition
Paul S. Briggs
Katie Fee
Wesley T. Brown
Marissa Y. Alexander
Bryan Hopkins
Shikha Joshi
Dexter Woods
Lars Voltz
Eric Botbyl


Artist Insights

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Juan Barroso: Immigrant Narratives

My work is about Mexican labor and the plight, struggle, hope, and heritage of Mexican immigrants. With political administrations that continue to enforce policies that dehumanize and force immigrants into the shadows, recognizing an immigrant’s humanity is vital. As the son of immigrant parents, I hope to pay homage to my people and the dignity of their labor. This exhibition, Immigrant Narratives, focuses on the stories of undocumented immigrants along the US-Mexico border.

No More Caged Children. Slip cast porcelain with hand-painted imagery. Juan Barroso. 2021.

 I see the water jug as a symbol of the dangerous journey across the desert. I grew up hearing stories of family friends that died in the desert before making it to the US. The water jug form was also my response to a video of an ICE officer dumping out water jugs that had been left behind by a humanitarian group. The water bottles had been left behind to prevent deaths from dehydration, and to see this man essentially condemning people to death with a smile on his face showed me what can happen when human beings are separated by an “us” and “them” mentality. 

The water jug form references the journey, and the hand-painted images on them depict some of the consequences undocumented immigrants face when the search for a better life is unsuccessful. The image of a child’s hand behind a chain link fence references the harsh living conditions for undocumented children in detention facilities at the border, including dehydration and more than 4000 allegations of sexual abuse in the last 5 years. This image is painful to paint, but I hope that when people see it, it can spark much needed conversations on human dignity. 

Border Narrative Mugs with iron decals. Juan Barroso. 2021.

I have included a limited series of iron decal mugs with images of the ICE officer that was recorded dumping out water, a caged child, and a monarch butterfly. These images were turned into decals from photographs of two large-scale graphite drawings I drew during a short-term residency at Companion Gallery. Because of its migration between the US and Mexico, I see the monarch butterfly as a symbol for the immigrant. The inclusion of the concertina razor wire reminds me of the photographs I saw of a mother and her child severely cut from the wire in an attempt to cross the border wall. In those images I saw an example of the price people are willing to pay for a chance at the American dream and a chance to provide a decent meal for their families. I made this series in an attempt to have both a more affordable tier of work and more pieces with these images out in the world. If I had hand-painted these images on each mug, the price would be higher than $350 just to get above minimum wage and this show would have taken all year to complete. Using a hand-drawn reference, different colors, and different image placement felt like a great way to still make unique pieces with a significant message. 

Hummingbird Pitcher. Slip cast porcelain with hand-painted imagery. Juan Barroso. 2021

Before my parents became legal residents, I spent my childhood in Mexico waiting for my mother to get her green card. She sewed clothes, repaired clothes, washed clothes, and sold clothes so my sister and I could eat. We would ride around on bicycles to collect small payments because the people of San Miguel Octopan, Gunajuato could not afford to pay full price. The pitcher forms I have in this show are made from molds of detergent bottles. It was a way to honor my mother and everything she did for my family. The happier images on these pitchers have become a way for me to cope with the political work that takes an emotional toll over time. 

For the hand-painted images I use a small watercolor brush and paint my images with Amaco’s black underglaze on functional vessels. I use a pointillism technique because the process is time-consuming and labor intensive. The process, with time invested, becomes an act of devotion. 

After the imagery is painted on bisqueware, I bisque again to set the image and avoid smearing the underglaze. I protect the images with liquid latex and airbrush a clear glaze on the rest of the piece. I make the work permanent and functional by firing to cone 10 in an electric kiln.  – Juan Barroso

Border Narrative Pitchers. Slip cart porcelain with glaze and iron decals. Juan Barroso. 2021
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A Conversation with Ashlyn Pope

How did you get into clay? 

In college is where I first got into clay. I signed up for a Ceramics I class because Sculpture I was full. My first piece fell apart and I fell in love with the challenge of mastering a material that gave push back. It still pushes back and I am still trying to master it. 

Nearly all of your vessels include an addition of sweetgrass elements. Why is this important to you and how has it evolved since you began? 

The sweetgrass elements are included on my works because they are apart of my Gullah Ancestry. I am a descendant of people with a long, rich history of being artisans. One of the arts that they are known for are Sweetgrass baskets. I bring the elements of these baskets into my own vessels to represent the idea of our ancestry and culture being the foundation of what makes us who we are today. Using these elements are also important to me because as a descendant of these amazing people, my family line in particular, lost the history and knowledge of making these baskets on the way to assimilation. As designs and the ways of making these baskets are handed down through families, I have been unable to learn the practice of my people. I still hope to find someone within our culture who is willing to teach me, but for now, I use a permanent material to reclaim my culture so that it can never be taken or lost to me again. 

The sweetgrass inspired forms I am make have evolved quite a bit. Originally, they were forms strictly focused on recalling the idea of baskets. Now, my pieces use elements of sweetgrass basket forms and work harder to incorporate content that extends beyond Gullah culture and into addressing broader experiences of the African American community. 

Observing the last few series of work that you have made, it seems that you approach imagery through many different techniques i.e. carving, painting, mishima and slip trailing. Your patterns, lines and imagery begin to feel like quilting. Could you speak to the significance of your imagery and references to quilting?

I use imagery mostly of cotton but sometimes there are images of rice plants, indigo plants, tobacco plants and even sometimes magnolias. These are all crops important to the foundation of American history and the reason for slavery. I use images of cotton, rice and indigo in particular because the Gullah people were brought to the islands off of the coast of the Southeastern United States and to the low country of South Carolina in order to harvest these particular items. I use magnolia’s because they are my favorite flower and a way for me to pay homage to Billy Holiday and her song Strange Fruit. The use of plants as decorations on ceramics is my acknowledgement of ceramic history. However, it is also simply because plant imagery on pots is beautiful and the audience gets to see something beautiful. Though, if the audience chooses to pay more attention, they will understand the full weight of the history behind those flowering buds and what it means for those white lines (usually slip trailed in white) to be drawn across Black bodies. 

My work does reference quilting as it was a tradition I did receive from my elders. My grandmother showed me how to quilt and I proceeded to take the visual aesthetics with me along the ceramics road that I chose to travel. Quilting is also important as quilts and quilt making is a large American tradition. Within the Black community they became ways to tell stories that could be passed down from generation to generation. I think of my ceramics as a way to tell stories. I also have a degree in Fashion design, so fabric and pattern really mean quite a bit in my practice. I no longer wish to make clothing but instead call to my history with fabric for my ceramics. 

In your most recent series of cups, the majority hold evidence of having been bound and constricted. The same forms also offer an abundance of volume. Could you talk about your treatment of the vessel as a figure/body and what it feels like to make these pots?

Clay, to me, even in its most unrefined form represents humanity. I grew up in church and though I am not much of a practitioner now, I remember being told that God shaped man from clay. To me, my vessels have no other choice but to be the human body. So, when I am discussing the Black experience in America as being bound and restricted, I physically have to bind and restrict my forms. 

I would like to say my actions in physically binding and then unbinding is therapeutic but if I allow myself to think beyond the physical actions needed to do this, then it becomes an emotional burden. Seeing my brown clay bound by my hands can be emotionally taxing. I feel some relief when I remove its binds but I find sorrow in the scars I left behind. The only solace I have in the entire process, is seeing that the pieces are still standing tall despite having been forced to fit into constraints. We as Black bodies manage to survive within those constraints.  

If you could make a mix tape to reflect the vibe of your studio practice, what would be the first 10 songs?

Strange Fruit- Billy Holiday 

A Change Is Gonna Come- Sam Cooke

They Don’t Care About Us- Michael Jackson 

The Lord is Coming- H.E.R ft YBN Cordae

What’s Goin On- Marvin Gaye 

Django Jane- Janelle Monae 

Freedom – Beyonce ft Kendrick Lamar 

Human- Rag’n’Bone Man

Tightrope- Janelle Monae

Let it Be- The Beatles 

Check out Ashlyn Pope’s bio, artist statement and available works HERE.