Special UM Event at MMAC to Feature Outstanding Ceramic Artists at Work

March 02, 2018

MISSOULA – The Montana Museum of Art & Culture at the University of Montana is presenting “Decades: Ceramics in the Permanent Collection” co-curated by UM ceramics Professor Julia Galloway and MMAC Curator of Art Jeremy Canwell. The exhibition runs through May 26.

Renowned guest artists Clay Studio Executive Director Shalene Valenzuela and MSU art Associate Professor Josh DeWeese will join UM art ceramics Associate Professor Trey Hill to demonstrate their own working processes from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, in the Masquer Theatre of UM’s Performing Arts and Radio/Television Center.

Gallery interpretation of “Decades: Ceramics in the Permanent Collection” will follow at 5 p.m. in the Meloy Gallery with co-curators Galloway and Canwell. Refreshments will be served.

The exhibition surveys the permanent collection from the beginning of the American ceramics movement up to the present moment, examining formal and thematic developments since its onset in the mid-1950s.

“Observing the MMAC ceramics collection through the decades reveals the great complexity of the field and the great strides artists have made over the past 70 years,” Galloway said.  

Beginning with collaborations by Peter and Henry Meloy and early works by Branson Stevenson and Peter Voulkos, the show highlights work that broke with clay’s decorative and utilitarian heritage to usher in what now is known as contemporary ceramics. 

In the subsequent decades, artists like Rudy Autio, Tony Hepburn, Ken Little and Frances Senska turned toward a sculptural understanding of clay, guided more by the physical properties of the medium than principles of quality manufacture. These artists laid the groundwork for more whimsical work produced by artists in the 1980s, such as Tom Rippon and Douglas Baldwin.

Examples of their work appear alongside exploratory works by DeWeese, Valenzuela, David Shaner, David Smith and Kurt Weiser. Some of the most daring advances in artistic sensibility and glazing and firing techniques were made in this era, and the works on view will excite both ceramics enthusiasts and newcomers to the clay medium.

More contemporary trends like the emergence of personal narrative and mythology will be on view in works by artists defining the field today, such as UM ceramics Professor Beth Lo and Hill, along with many recent graduates of UM’s own ceramics program, including Crista Ann Ames, Megan Bogonovich, Alex Kraft, Ryan Mitchell and Sue Tirrell.

 “This exhibition is a testament to MMAC's vision and foresight, and the collection represents the striking sophistication, inspiration and variety of ceramic art made in the state of Montana,” Lo said.

MMAC’s gallery hours are from noon to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The museum is closed Sundays, Mondays and UM holidays. The museum is open to the public with a suggested $5 donation. Tours are available. Advance notice is appreciated. For more information call 406-243-2019 or visit http://www.umt.edu/montanamuseum/.


Contact: Barbara Koostra, Suzanne and Bruce Crocker director, UM Montana Museum of Art & Culture, 406-243-2020, barbara.koostra@mso.umt.edu; Jeremy Canwell, MMAC curator of art, 406-243-2019, jeremy.canwell@mso.umt.edu.