Object Lessons: Ceramics from the Gregg Museum of Art & Design

  • Marguerite Wildenhain, “Siesta on Campus.” Transferred from the North Carolina Museum of Art.
  • Suze Lindsay, Pair of Black and Tan Vases. Gift of Bernard J. and Patricia H. Hyman.
  • Mary Lou Higgins, “Shadows of Time Rise Before Us Now.” Gift of the artist.
  • Tom Spleth, Pleated Ceramic Pitcher. Gift of the Friends of the Gregg.
  • Michael Rutkowsky, Tall Three-Handled Vase. Gift of Bernard J. and Patricia H. Hyman.
  • Michael Sherrill, Short Bottle. Gift of Andrew Glasgow.
  • Sally Bowen Prange, “Edgescape Bowl.” Gift of Nancy Fields Fadum.
  • Sally Bowen Prange, “Pathfinder Vessel.” Gift of the artist, courtesy of Lee Hansley Gallery, Raleigh, NC.
  • Jim and Shirl Parmentier, Woven Clay Basket with Bamboo Handle. Gift of Bernard J. and Patricia H. Hyman.

Many artists draw upon ideas of place; ceramic artists reach down and literally scoop it up. In the late eighteenth century, settlers in North Carolina’s Piedmont region and the hilly country beyond found good pottery clays beneath their feet. Soon there was more than one “Jugtown” specializing in making utilitarian wares, and many farms had a pottery workshop and a wood-fired kiln.

Clay technology was essential to the daily needs of rural life—from household necessities such as mugs, pitchers, plates, crocks, and teapots, to objects not often associated with ceramics, such as grave markers, downspouts, fountains, and whistles. Traditional craft practices and aesthetic preferences developed over the years, and cultural and social needs, markets, methods, and makers all substantially changed. As generations of makers adapted and persisted, many ceramic objects began to move off the kitchen counter and dinner table to the mantle and the museum case.

Object Lessons: Ceramics from the Gregg Museum of Art & Design presents work mostly made in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries that shows how contemporary ceramics makers both draw upon and break with their craft’s traditions. Driven by talent, work ethic, and the energy of experimentation, these potters honor and interpret their past while reflecting their present moment.