SOUTH KINGSTOWN, RI – As the South County Art Association celebrates, exhibits and educates in a wide variety of artistic styles and media, ceramics hold a special place in the hearts of many of its members. Hosting pottery classes in their workshop since the 1970s, a plethora of pieces have been produced over the years, ranging from practical to experimental. Now, for the 48th year in a row, the medium is once again in the foreground, as the annual Earthworks Open Juried Clay exhibit debuts Thursday at the gallery and runs through July 17.
The exhibit will also be the first since the COVID-19 pandemic to have an opening reception live, in person, which will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and feature a live open jury consisting of a juror and veteran of Pownal, based in Vermont. ceramic artist Ray Bub – something SCAA Executive Director Kathleen Carland has been looking forward to for a long time.
“The public opening of an exhibition is something very dear to all who appreciate art – and it is a celebration,” said Carland. “It’s an opportunity for artists to come together with people who appreciate art and really celebrate what it means for the people in their lives, so not having been a terrible loss for us is therefore a very exciting (event). “
The exhibition presents 65 ceramic pieces by member and non-member artists in a wide variety of styles, representing the great diversity of the medium.
“One of the great advantages of the exhibition is that even though it is only one medium, there are still many examples of the variety of work that can be done with clay, with media, so we don’t just showcase individual artists, but we showcase the full range of possibilities, ”said Jason Fong, SCAA Director of Exhibitions. “We’ve got functional, we’ve got sculptural, there’s hand-built, there’s pieces that have been thrown on the wheel (and) all of those techniques can be combined, so it just creates a huge variety. even in this medium alone, which makes for a great show. “
In addition to a variety of styles, there are also a variety of shooting techniques on display.
“We have high fire, low fire, oxidation, reduction, wood fire, raku (and) pit fire,” Fong said, all of which affect the look and feel of the final product. .
For selecting a juror, Fong said the decision to choose Bub came from a recommendation from a studio member. The potter will bring more than 50 years of experience in the middle to the table.
“He has had a long career dating back to the 1970s, so he is very familiar with the traditions of ceramics and the evolution of the art form over the decades,” Fong said, adding that like other shows, a workshop led by the juror will accompany the show. .
As the exhibition is open by jury, artists will be able to see their pieces examined and criticized by Bub in real time.
“There is actually a live jury, so they criticize the work in front of the artist while the work is selected for the show,” Fong said. “This is one of the rare opportunities for artists to get feedback and sort of understand what the juror is thinking when they select the work, which is a great opportunity for artists, and I think that he chose a very diverse and interesting exhibition. . “
For Fong, the exhibition is one of the shows organized by the SCAA that carries the most tradition and resonates with members and art lovers.
“Of all the regular exhibitions we do, this one probably has the most tradition behind it,” Fong said. “This is its 48th year and there are still submitting artists participating at the start of this show when it first premiered.”
In particular, it is the central role played by ceramics at SCAA that keeps the show coming back year after year.
“(Ceramics) is probably one of our most popular mediums here at the South County Art Association,” Fong said. “We have had a pottery workshop since the 1970s and today it is always busy. We’re running more classes and they’re filling up. Our holiday sale and everything, a lot of ceramics, and that’s a major part of pretty much everything we do.
Like Carland, Fong is thrilled to have a live opening reception returning to the gallery after more than a year of COVID restrictions.
“It kind of marks a return to normal – whatever it is. We’ve been hosting shows for a year now, but haven’t had a chance to have these openings, and the openings are usually when all of our members – or at least groups of them – get together and log on. and share ideas, see each other’s work, and they’re just able to interact with each other in ways that we haven’t been able to do for over a year now, ”Fong said. “It’s almost like people are working in isolation, and now we can bring everyone together in one place and just celebrate being artists and seeing our work and showing it to our friends and fellow artists. , as well as to the public. “
Carland hopes the show will leave attendees with a greater appreciation for the power of the ceramic medium.
“I think they will leave here with a greater appreciation for this art form and its creative manifestations that are really only open to the artist’s interpretation,” Carlad said. “It’s so open that I think they’ll just enjoy seeing this kind of exhibit. “
The opening reception kicks off Thursday at 7 p.m. at SCAA’s Helm House Main Gallery, located at 2587 Kingstown Road in Kingston. Refreshments will be served outside during the event and attendees will be able to enter and exit the gallery to enjoy the artistic and social aspects of the evening.
The exhibition will run until July 17 during gallery opening hours from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.
For more information on SCAA, visit their website, southcountyart.org.