Monday, November 8, 2010

American Ceramic Circle Meeting

The 'wings' of the Milwaukee Art Museum opened
This past weekend wasthe annual meeting of the American Ceramic Circle. This year's meeting was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is a really nice city! (Not that I'm surprised by that fact, I had just never been there!) The lectures and presentations were at the Milwaukee Art Museum(MAM), which is a wonderful feat of architecture! I had the opportunity to watch the "wings" open twice! The lectures were all very insightful and interesting. I was really excited that there were quite a few archaeological presentations too! I was also excited that there was quite a contingent of North Carolinians there! Archaeologist Linda Carnes-McNaughton, potter Mary Farrell from Westmoore Pottery, and Hal and Eleanor Pugh from New Salem Pottery were there. Mary, Hal, and Eleanor did a pottery demonstration at the museum on Sunday. Potter Michelle Erikson also did a demonstration on how she learned to recreate North Carolina Moravian bottles, such as the faience ring bottle, and the eagle flask (check out the Ceramics in America publications mentioned below for images of the originals).

Michelle trimming the ring bottle

The eagle flask after Michelle popped it out of the mold and assembled the various parts
The exhibit Art In Clay has a lot of the objects which were reassessed in the 2009 and 2010 Ceramics in America publications. It was really great to see them all in one place, and to see archaeological fragments with intact pieces. Unfortunately, I was unable to take any photos! However, I can show you photos of the innovative ceramic displays as a part of the Chipstone Foundation's galleries at the MAM.
The decorative arts galleries have a series of exhibition spaces and thematic arrangements. Each space invites the visitor to get close to the objects, see them at eye level, and perhaps, think about them in a different way. As curator John Prown said, the "awakening of wonder, surprise, and curiosity should always be the goal."

This desk and bookcase is filled with minerals, fossils, and shells in order to have the visitor think about the influences nature had on the carvings and design of the piece in the 18th century
One of the most fascinating displays was called Loca Miraculi or Rooms of Wonder which offered interactive drawers in cases to pull out and see natural materials, botanical prints, and other art which historically influenced ceramic and furniture design. Curator Ethan Lasser did a presentation on the galleries, and explained that they worked to show "aspects of an object which connect it to its cultural and historical background."

The cases were beautifully designed and artfully arranged. For an example of how this exhibit worked, the teapots below were made in the second half of the 18th century. They look very Art Deco, don't they?

The teapot on the left is earthenware (creamware) and the pot on the right is salt-glazed stoneware
These pieces were influenced by a fervor for geological formations in the eighteenth-century. Prints and drawings were widely distributed, and the excitement for the shapes and textures were transferred to ceramic.

The reproduced image pages in the drawer came from A General Natural History authored by John Hill ca. 1748
The same series of cases also put geologic stones such as agate paired with a piece of agate earthenware produced in the third quarter of the 18th-century. I thought this was especially fascinating and beautiful to see the pairs together.  
Agate earthenware compared with geologic agate stone

The lectures wrapped up on Saturday, and I ended my Saturday evening with a lovely dish of sausage, bratwurst, cheese, and sauerkraut at Mader's. Mader's has been around since 1909, and it was wonderful. The Franciskaner Weissbier Dunkel beer was also very good.

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