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Special Topic Guide: The Art & Craft of Ceramics, with Spotlight on Women in Clay

The Art and Craft of Ceramics, spotlight on Women in Clay for Women's History Month. Photo of woman polishing pottery bowls.

[Clay is] rolled, ripped, pulled, prodded, perforated, squeezed, poked, kneaded, fingered, folded and fragmented, its tactility and bodily resonance seeing artists using dexterous fingers and palms to activate the earth. Indeed, the whole body is often involved when shaping vast masses of clay: bending over to push, squatting to shape, stamping to flatten, pulling back the arm to pummel and punch, and even lying down to be covered by its dust. It is used in its raw state as part of nature; made liquid; left to dry and crack; encountered as a found material … or it is fired, often repeatedly, as glazes are applied in stages.

—Elderton, Louisa, and Rebecca Morrill, editors. Vitamin C: Clay + Ceramic in Contemporary Art, Phaidon, 2017.

Ceramics … has one of the richest histories of any medium on the planet. … The art-craft divide is a bogus concept regularly obliterated by the undeniable originality of individuals who may call themselves artists, designers or artisans. … While ceramics is just another art medium, there is no art medium quite like ceramics.

—Smith, Roberta. "Crucible of Creativity, Stoking Earth into Art." New York Times, late ed., 20 Mar. 2009, p. C25.

This exhibit celebrates ceramic art and the long history of pottery-making. Archaeologists have dated fragments of fired clay to as much as 20,000 years old! Today, functional pottery is still ubiquitous, and artists use ceramics in an ever-expanding variety of innovative ways. The exhibit showcases selected books, e-books, periodicals, and videos to help you discover what ceramic artists have achieved – and inspire you to start or develop your own work with the medium.

Explore this exhibit

Navigation for virtual exhibit

Discover ceramics at AACC

Feeling inspired? AACC offers ceramics courses for both credit and noncredit students in our 4,000-square-foot studio. Learn techniques for handbuilding, wheel-throwing, using molds, glazing, and more, while discovering the history and potential of clay.
Thank you to the Ceramics department for providing the pieces in our display case!

Library photo courtesy of Barry Halkin Photography