One does not, perhaps, consider ceramic objects to be immediately gendered, possess sexuality, or be particularly political. But pottery is one of the oldest practices among humans, and is so rooted in fundamental domestic and utilitarian concerns that there is literally no known human society that has not made vessels of some kind. This was something curator Anders Ruhwald, who has served as artist-in-residence and head of the Ceramics Department at Cranbrook Academy of Art since 2008, held very firmly in mind as he assembled contributors for This is the Living Vessel: person. This is what matters.
[“This Is the Living Vessel: Person. This Is What Matters. This Is Our Universe", curated by Cranbrook Academy of Art Head of Ceramics Anders Ruhwald] is part of a two-way exchange between Cranbrook and Pewabic—both Knight Arts grantees, and both with ceramic studios founded by women. Ruhwald has served as artist-in-residence and head of the ceramics department at Cranbrook since 2008, and has included recent Cranbrook graduate Matthew Bennett Laurents in the “Living Vessel” lineup. Simultaneously, the Cranbrook Art Museum presents “Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes: The Gerald W. McNeely Collection of Pewabic Pottery,” which showcases a recent donation of one of the largest private collections of Pewabic pottery. There are more than 100 works on display, including items made by Mary Chase Perry Stratton, Pewabic’s founder.
Santa came a little early last week when I had the opportunity to preview the encyclopedic exhibition of Pewabic Pottery opening Saturday at Cranbrook. One of the largest private collections in the nation, “Simple Forms, Stunning Glazes” features the 117-piece collection of Gerald W. McNeely, recently donated to Cranbrook by the New York-based collector. I toured the luminous exhibition with director of the Center for Collections and Research’s Gregory Wittkopp and collections fellow Stefanie Dlugosz-Acton, who curated the exhibition. Both shared their thoughts about the collection and exhibition with Trash or Treasure readers.
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