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Exhibition Review -- Celebration of Clay 2022: Uplifted

23 Jun 2022 7:21 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)

The annual membership exhibition of the New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists opened Saturday, June 18 at the Taos Ceramics Center. 

The afternoon of opening day was overcast, with sprinkles from a persistent weather system giving a much welcomed respite from the threat of recent historic wildfires. Spirits were not dampened in the least as the exhibition’s doors opened to an eager crowd. 

On display are the ceramic artworks of NMPCA members from across the state, whose individualism is mirrored in the diversity of approaches, techniques, forms and treatments in evidence. 

Personal impressions: 
Everyone has a unique subjective experience encountering an artwork, based on their own experiences, knowledge and taste. I want to highlight here a few select pieces which caught my eye and made me look deeper. 

Columna 4, by Jorge Luis Bernal. 

Columna 4, by Jorge Luis Bernal  

At first glance, this piece’s size and drum shape suggest the progeny of an African djembe and a Middle Eastern doumbek.

Evincing an abstracted portrait bust with hat tipped at a jaunty angle, this hand-built sculptural form is simple, yet comes alive with a complex surface. 

As the name implies, the base stands erect as a column, and supports a flaring capital. It’s surface is busy with deeply impressed textural patterns, which have been stained black to their depths. A thick white glaze with black-stained crackle overall gives an organic, animating patina. Accents of clay slip encircle the base and top rim in terracotta color. 

Three Ravens Running, by PattyMara Gourley.

Three Ravens Running, by PattyMara Gourley

This is a whimsical merging of vessel, sculpture and drawing. A hand built, tall, cylindrical form, flared at top and bottom is the framework for this circular tableau of three ravens running after one another, ad infinitum. 

The quirky line drawings of the ravens are reminiscent of Medieval illustrated manuscripts.  Beaks aloft, the trio parade endlessly after one another, their heads and beaks alone breaking from the curved surface to jut proudly above the rim. The terra-cotta color of the low-fired micaceous clay body underlies the thin-line drawings evocative of quill and ink. The ravens’ beady eyes of blue accent the sculpting with a mischievous glint. 

Snow Flurry, by Anna Bush Crews.

Snow Flurry,  by Anna Bush Crews 

This tall, columnar sculpture is at once unmoving and perpetually flowing.  Like an earthen Lava-Lamp rising and falling, it undulates and folds back into itself.

Terrestrial geology is evoked in the sense of its transformative, grinding, subsuming relentlessness. The earthen spectrum of colors are explored through juxtaposing and overlapping white, red and black clays. The forms are primordially organic and sinuous. 

Surfaces are rendered raw and unglazed. The bare clay evokes the natural processes of stretching, evaporation, shrinkage, while the smoothly bulging forms speak of weathering through wind and water over eons. 

I’ll Hold You, by Andrea Pichaida 

I’ll Hold You, by Andrea Pichaida 

Like a crow to a shiny object, you become drawn in to this vessel by the lurid red of its gaping maw.  

The bowl’s tri-lobed form is yawning and capacious. Thinly potted by hand, it’s elegant, sweeping curves are interrupted by 3 golden-yellow radial ribs running up from its base to its pointy, lobed rim. 

Hugging the rim are a band of perforations letting a lattice of light through, except where strategic holes are plugged with precise, wooden dowels bisecting the frieze of piercings. 

The dark, solemn, matte exterior surface contrasts starkly with the glossy, mottled, sanguine riot inside. 

These are just a few standouts in the showing of breathtaking ceramic art contained in “Uplifted”.

Do yourself a favor and see the show in person at Taos Ceramics Center, or online at

Michael Thornton


  • 04 Jul 2022 1:08 PM | Cirrelda Snider-Bryan (Administrator)
    Great to hear your portrayals, Michael Thornton. I agree with your choices to interpret. But then, a much longer list awaits for describing! Such a good show.
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