Earthworks: Tradition, Influence, Innovation

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The Umbrella Arts Center
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Things to do near Concord, MA » Art » Visual-Arts

May 10 - June 23, 2024

Juried by Ayumi Horie

The Umbrella Arts Center

40 Stow Street, Concord, MA

Earthworks; Tradition, Influence, Innovation is a regional show celebrating the depth of history, tradition, and cultural expression in contemporary ceramics, and the ways in which artists continue to expand the field through innovation and reinterpretation. As part of The Umbrella Arts Center's continued commitment to the ceramic medium, we intend for this show to highlight emerging and established artists working in clay. This show will invite artists currently residing in New England, honoring the skill, knowledge, and diversity of our regional ceramics community. Work both functional and sculptural is included.


Best in show: $1,000

Audrey An, Naughty Chair
Juror’s choice: 5 awards at $100 each.

Deighton Abrams, Shrine of Broken Promises
Anis Beigzadeh, Be Strong
Erica Hood, So Empty
Bri Larson, Robin and Worms
Megumi Naitoh, Searching for Blue


Some shows about ceramics hone in a niche topic, technique, or time period. To its great strength, this show does none of that. What makes this show worth experiencing is the breadth of aesthetics, approaches, and ways of seeing a material that is at once so common and so underseen.

Although ceramics has become the latest hot trend in the art world, a hierarchy remains between the utilitarian and the sculptural in the field. Because of this, it was critical to me to include many types of pots in the show. From Bri Larson’s charming “Robin and Worms Platter”, in which the variation of repetition is evidenced, to the raw human quality of Sang-Jeong Lee-Min’s work to Ellen Schön’s spare and elegant non-touched work, the pots in the show hold equal weight as any other piece. They invite us to touch them because we are used to that relationship with pots.

Deighton Adams’ examination of materials in “Shrine of Broken Promises” and Sonia Simoun’s piece remind us that clay permeates material culture and that the juxtaposition of materials can highlight their respective assets and vulnerabilities. The intangibility of video work is another contrast in material when we watch Megumi’s Naitoh’s plea for support for Ukraine using color, plasticity and motion.

We see the emotive power of Erica Hood’s “So Empty” and in contrast the soft longing in Helen Duncan’s “Shore Encounters” and the ways in which many of the pieces in the show address nature and climate. We also see the necessity of lightness and play when we see Susan Bernstein’s “Mancala”, a contemporary take on one the world’s most ancient games.

For so many of us, clay holds our cultures. Alejandra Cuadra, Anis Beigzadeh, and Ki Wan Sim and among those in the show who have made pieces that address identity and offer generous insight in their experiences. Audrey An, the winner of the Juror’s Choice award, speaks of transcultural experience between two countries, two languages, and two cultures and how the process between the digital and analog can also be a type of fluency. This duality adds up to much than two, in my opinion.

Congratulations to all artists included in Earthworks and those who were awarded prizes! My wholehearted hope for the Earthworks show is that it widens the horizon for anyone who thought that they knew what clay and ceramics are.


Time: 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM,-Influence,-Innovation

Street Address

The Umbrella Arts Center, 40 Stow Street
Concord, MA 01742


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