Revered at the most important and prestigious fair of its kind in the United States, the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair draws the world’s finest galleries specializing in porcelain, pottery, glass, cloisonné and enamels. A vital complement to this exhilarating event, free with the purchase of an admission ticket, is a superb series of enlightening and entertaining lectures by scholars, curators and ceramists. Here is the schedule:
Thursday, January 18
“Pot(tery) Tales in Victorian Painting and Literature”—Dr. Rachel Gotlieb, Adjunct Curator, Gardiner Museum in Toronto.
There is a wealth of information to be gleaned by deciphering ceramics in Victorian art and literature. This richly illustrated presentation shows how English Genre, Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic artists, as well as novelists Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Anthony Trollope charged their pottery and porcelain with deep metaphorical meanings to heighten the narrative for the public to interpret. Crockery in the cupboard, on the mantel, the table or the floor represented popular motifs, exemplifying topical issues that touched on hygiene, faith, temperance and etiquette. Broken and empty vessels stood for despair and neglect, and personified “fallen” women. Alternatively, platters and cups filled with food, drink and flowers signified happiness and domesticity. Specific objects, especially jugs, were coded by color, size, form, and location to demarcate gender and virtue, whereas the ubiquitous blue willow plate ignited the social divisions of the time: on the one hand serving as a lightening rod of bad taste and lower class and on the other hand embodying national pride of English manufacturing, nostalgia and domesticity, only to be embraced and adopted in the mania for blue-and-white china. This talk explains how depictions of ceramics played a central role moralizing and decorating Victorian society.
Dr. Gotlieb is the 2017 Theodore Randall International Chair in Art and Design at Alfred University in Alfred, New York, and was previously the Gardiner’s chief curator and interim executive director. She is currently writing a book titled Ceramics in Victorian Literature and Painting: Meanings and Metaphors.
“The Potter Hath Power Over His Clay: Slip Decorated Earthenware from Philadelphia”—Deborah Miller, Archaeologist and Senior Materials Specialist for AECOM in Burlington, N.J., and consulting archaeologist at Stenton in Philadelphia.
The recent discovery of the first true American-made porcelain in Philadelphia highlighted the important role that archaeology plays in substantiating and, in some cases, refuting long-standing beliefs about pottery manufacture in early America. Such is the case with archaeologically recovered earthenware from Philadelphia, where new evidence is similarly changing our understanding of these humble, locally made ceramics. While scholars, collectors, and museums have largely focused on highly decorated Pennsylvania German examples from Philadelphia’s hinterlands, archaeology has shown that earthenware made in the city in the 18th century was the first to exhibit strong European roots that linked the old world to the new. This lecture will explore the archaeology of local ceramics in Philadelphia, their distinctive characteristics and decoration, and the English, German, and French pottery traditions that merged into America’s first unique ceramic style.
Ms. Miller previously served as an archaeologist for the National Park Service at Independence National Historical Park and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. She specializes in the management and analysis of historic period artifact collections and early American ceramic production, specifically ceramics made in Philadelphia. She is a recipient of an American Ceramics Circle research grant on Philadelphia-manufactured ceramics of the 19th century and has several forthcoming publications on ceramics production in the Delaware Valley and imported ceramics from Philadelphia archaeological sites.
“British Ceramic Treasures at The Mint Museum”—Brian Gallagher, curator of decorative arts, The Mint Museum.
The Mint Museum’s collection of 18th-century British pottery and porcelain is widely respected for its scope and quality. The collection numbers more than 2,000 objects and includes important examples of both salt-glazed and dry-bodied stoneware from Staffordshire; tin-glazed earthenware from Bristol, Liverpool, and London; and cream-colored earthenware from Derbyshire, Staffordshire, and Yorkshire. Notable 18th-century porcelain factories represented include Chelsea, Bow, and Vauxhall in London, Longton Hall in Staffordshire, Worcester, Bristol, and others.
Mr. Gallagher joined The Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, as curator of decorative arts in July 2007. Since then, he has organized numerous exhibitions, including The Brilliant Period of American Cut Glass; North Carolina Pottery: Diversity and Traditions; and Celebrating Queen Charlotte’s Coronation. He was the project manager for several traveling exhibitions, including Made in China: Export Porcelain from the Leo and Doris Hodroff Collection at Winterthur and the large international loan exhibition Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World’s Fairs 1851–1939. In November 2015, he published British Ceramics 1675–1825: The Mint Museum, which highlights more than 225 examples of the Mint’s nationally recognized British ceramics collection, and in early 2016 he organized a new display of that collection in an installation titled Portals to the Past: British Ceramics 1675–1825.
Friday, January 19
Today’s lectures feature a series of conversations between contemporary artists and museum curators who use history to inform contemporary practice in their work as artists and curators to engage the public and activate collections.
“Channeling Josiah Wedgwood”—Artist Peter Pincus speaks about his research and into the Wedgwood Collections at Birmingham Museum of Art and how conversations with Anne Forschler, chief curator, and John M. Harbert III, curator of decorative arts, Birmingham Museum of Art, are being incorporated into his new work and teaching. Among the collections Mr. Pincus has studied are the Dwight and Lucille Beeson Wedgwood Collection (with objects dating from 1759 to early 19th century) and the Buten Wedgwood Collection (with objects dating from 1759 to the 1980s); the 19th- and 20th-century objects under examination in the lecture come from this collection.
Mr. Pincus lives and works in Penfield, New York, and since 2014 has served as a visiting assistant professor of ceramics in the School for American Crafts at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He received a BFA and an MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. He has been a resident artist at the Mendocino Art Center in California, worked as the Studio Manager and Resident Artist Coordinator of the Genesee Center for Arts and Education in Rochester, New York, and taught at the Roberts Wesleyan College.
“Revive, Remix, Respond: Contemporary Ceramic Artists at The NYCGF and The Frick Pittsburgh”—Dawn Brean, with a discussion with participating artists of the show loan exhibition.
Contemporary artists whose artistic practice is informed by the past were invited to respond to and produce new works referencing the art, objects and social history of the Frick collection. Many contemporary artists are breathing new life into the ceramic medium by reviving and re-invigorating age-old concepts. This re-invention is distilled into the use of 18th-century processes and techniques to create new motifs and the depiction of stories inspired by history, often with a commentary or critique on modern society. This topic is particularly relevant to the current state of the ceramics in the museum field as it answers the questions of how history meets the contemporary: How can artists draw on the rich artistic traditions of ceramic history while re-invigorating their relevance in a society that prizes the contemporary? Likewise, how can museums use contemporary ceramic art to illuminate and re-invigorate historic collections? The Frick Pittsburgh is committed to using the voices and artworks of contemporary artists to meaningfully engage our audience and our collections with issues and ideas relevant to the present day. “Revive, Remix, Respond” is an exciting opportunity to continue that dialogue.
Organized by Dawn Reid Brean, associate curator of decorative arts at The Frick Pittsburgh, with Leslie Ferrin of Ferrin Contemporary, the museum has invited artists to submit work that is inspired by, responds to, or relates to historic ceramics in The Frick Pittsburgh’s permanent collection. Selected works from the exhibition will be presented as a special exhibition at the New York Ceramics and Glass Fair January 17–21.
“Time Travel in the Period Room”—Elisabeth Agro, Barry Harwood, and Sarah Carter
A series of conversations between contemporary artists and museum curators who use history to inform contemporary practice in their work as artists and engage the public is the focus. Three museum curators are speaking about exhibitions and projects that connect past and present in innovative ways, activating spaces through collaborations with contemporary artists and interdisciplinary scholars and informing new works. The curators will share how through working with contemporary artists and interdisciplinary scholars, new works evolve, historic information are revealed, audiences engaged, educational programming is developed and connections are made to the past while reflecting on present-day issues.
Saturday January 20
“Export V. Exported: A Closer Look at Kangxi Era Porcelains”—Jeffrey Stamen
The lecture is in conjunction with a recent publication written by Jeffrey Stamen and Cynthia Volk, A Culture Revealed: Kangxi-Era Chinese Porcelain from the Jie Rui Tang Collection. Starting in the mid-18th century, it generally is fairly easy to tell which Chinese porcelains were made for export, for the domestic market, or for the imperial court. However, looking back to the earlier Kangxi reign, the distinctions are much less clear. This has resulted in many domestic, and even imperial pieces, being misattributed as export. This lecture will explore what is meant by the term “export” in relation to Kangxi period porcelains as applied in the early Qing Dynasty, during the “golden age” of Western collectors of the late 19th and early 20th century and today.
“The Meaning of Objects and How They Educate, Stimulate and ‘Speak’ to Us”—Moderated by Thomas Lollar, professional ceramist, curator, educator in ceramics program, Teachers College/Columbia University. Participants: Dr. Judith Burton, director emeritus, Arts & Education Program, Teachers College/Columbia University. Haakon Lenzi, professional ceramist, educator, faculty of Greenwich House School, graduate of Alfred University. Paul Limperopulos, curator and educator at NYIT (Visual Symbols of Popular Culture). Victoria Schoenfeld, seasoned collector of contemporary ceramics.
“American Studio Pottery: Making of a Movement”—Linda Sikora and Mark Shapiro, moderated by Adrienne Spinnozi, assistant research curator of American Decorative Arts, The American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Internationally recognized potters Linda Sikora and Mark Shapiro discuss their divergent backgrounds, training, and influences as a way to touch on significant themes in postwar North American ceramics. Sikora, educated in Canadian and American academic ceramic programs and now department head at Alfred University, and Mark Shapiro, a studio potter who pursued field-based learning, will focus on their distinct experiences, studio work and mentors to illuminate the artist’s relationship to ceramic history.
About the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair
The New York Ceramics & Glass Fair, which is held at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street (between First and Second Avenues), opens on Wednesday evening, January 17, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tickets are $90 per person. The fair opens to the public on Thursday, January 18 through Sunday, January 21, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person and can be used throughout the duration of the fair.
An essential adjunct to the New York Ceramics & Glass Fair is its extensive lecture program, which runs throughout the duration of the fair and is free with the purchase of a ticket. With a lineup of distinguished curators and experts, this year’s series will provide lively and thought-provoking panel discussions about the realms of clay and glass. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The New York Ceramics & Glass Fair is co-produced by Meg Wendy of MCG Events LLC and Elizabeth J. Lees Events.
For more information visit, www.nyceramicsandglass.com.