WCU presents ‘Contemporary Clay’ exhibit, accompanying events at Fine Art Museum

A three-month ceramics exhibit at the Western Carolina University Fine Art Museum, Contemporary Clay, a Survey of Contemporary American Ceramics, that features the work of 25 artists runs through Friday, Dec. 16.

Curated by Heather Mae Erickson, WCU assistant professor of art, the exhibition examines the expanding and evolving use of clay through the work of artists, such as Cristina Cordova and Thomas Schmidt, both recipients of a North Carolina Artists Fellowship in visual arts. During its run at the museum, located in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center, the exhibition will show the diversity of the medium, from expressive sculpture to functioning objects, she said.

Christina Cordova, Wild Island

“I am excited to host such a stellar group of ceramic artists and sculptors at Western Carolina University,” Erickson said. “It is exciting to think of how it will affect the students, faculty, staff and visitors.  This is an opportunity for the College of Fine and Performing Arts to continue to position WCU as a strong supporter of contemporary ceramics as well as the arts in general by continuing to develop strong programming. Having ceramic works of the highest caliber for this amount of time will be beneficial to not only our students, but also surrounding institutions.”

The 25 exhibiting “Contemporary Clay” artists are A. Blair Clemo, Linda Cordell, Cristina Cordova, Paul Donnelly, Teri Frame, Lauren Gallaspy, Amber Ginsburg, Gerit Grimm, Del Harrow, Mike Helke, Aaron Hughes, Beth Katleman, Paul Kotula, Linda Lopez, Roberto Lugo, Jeannine Marchand, Walter McConnell, Brooks Oliver, Denise Pelletier, Jeanne Quinn, Anders Ruhwald, Thomas Schmidt, Kevin Snipes, Albion Stafford and Colleen Toledano.

The work of Harrow, a conceptual sculptor and ceramic artist from Portland, Oregon, which consists of site-specific installations, sculptures and limited edition objects, shows an exploration of themes and a range of materials. Many of his sculptures begin as digital models – employing computer software as a tool for generating abstract form, Erickson said.

Another style would be that of Cordova, who lives in Penland and teaches at the Penland School of Crafts near Bakersville, she said. “The human figure is key to her work, primarily with clay. Her moldings recreate various human forms,” Erickson said. Cordova founded TravelArte, an ongoing platform that provides educational experiences within the ceramics medium while immersing students in the creative culture of a particular geographical setting. 

Del Harrow, Untitled


The project is supported by the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the Randall and Susan Ward Endowment for the Ceramic Arts at WCU; WCU College of Fine and Performing Arts; WCU School of Art and Design; the Godfrey Seminar on the Business of Craft; and the Fine Art Museum.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, with extended hours on Thursdays to 7 p.m. Admission and parking are free. To learn more, go to fineartmuseum.wcu.edu or call 828-227-3591.