Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Compiled and written by Rubie Britt-Height and Kurma Murrain
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples, and commemorates their histories and cultures. It is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October.
In 2018, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in North Carolina. Cooper’s proclamation states “American Indians, who have inhabited this land since long before their first contact with English settlers, share their knowledge of the land and its resources, and have continued to play a vital role in the development of our local communities, the state of North Carolina and the nation.”
North Carolina has several indigenous peoples, including the Catawba, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Coharie, Haliwa-Saponi, Meherrin, Muscogee, Occaneechi Band Saponi, Sappony, Waccamaw Siouan Seminole tribe, Lumbee, and Pamlico.
Governor Cooper noted, “Our state has enjoyed a positive relationship with the indigenous people of North Carolina and continue to grow in our shared progress. We honor and respect the heritage and the many cultural and economic contributions of our American Indian tribes and people.”
The History of Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Indigenous Peoples’ Day began in 1989 in South Dakota, where then Governor George S. Mickelson backed a resolution to celebrate Native American day on the second Monday of October. It was a counter-celebration held on the same day as the U.S. federal holiday of Columbus Day, which honors Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Some in the United States reject celebrating Christopher Columbus, saying that he represents “the violent history of the colonization in the Western Hemisphere” and that Columbus Day overshadows Columbus’ dismal actions, including enslaving Native Americans.
According to the Cherokee One Feather news, “Columbus’ landing in the Caribbean marked the beginning of decline among Native American tribes and the beginning of the Transatlantic slave trade.” Columbus Day is still celebrated the same day in many states, including by numerous Italian-American communities.
Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day at the Mint
The Mint Museum joins North Carolina’s celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ day and embraces the idea of acknowledging the historic sacrifices of indigenous people and their contributions to the United States. The museum is proud of its relationship with the Metrolina Native American Association in presenting cultural history, heritage, dance, storytelling, and music during Native American Heritage Month. It also has presented programming with Catawba artists.
Draw & Print Patterns Inspired by Textiles
Find patterns in the textiles around your house, then turn them into a series of prints inspired by the glass panel installation Spin, Weave, Gather by Nancy Callan. In her patterned glass panels, Callan references North Carolina’s rich history of textile manufacturing. From twisted threads, to woven patterns, to designs of stripes or dots, the fabric around us can prompt some pretty cool design ideas!
“I think art is both a question and an answer. We ask the question ‘What if?’ and we answer that question through the process of making.”
About the Artist:
Glass artist Nancy Callan lives in Seattle, Washington, where she works among many skilled glassblowers. She created the piece above while working at STARworks in Star, North Carolina.
• Scratch art printing foam (or recycled foam trays from the grocery store)
• Paper to print on
• Water soluble printing ink or tempera paint (also known as poster paint)
• Paint brush, pencil, or blunt end to use as a stylus (you can use more than one size tip to create different line thicknesses)
• Brayer (or small paint roller or foam brush)
• Washable, flat container for rolling ink
• Tarp or table covering that can get dirty
• Damp and dry paper towels for wiping hands
• Ruler – optional
1. Gather fabrics to use as your inspiration.
Find pillows, towels, or pieces of clothing with textures or patterns that interest you. Pictures from the internet can also be used as inspiration for the project. Printing them and having them next to you as you work can help.
2. Carve your decoration
Use your stylus or pencil to scratch patterns into foam boards, also called “plates”. Press hard enough to make an indentation, but not so hard as to cut through the foam. Mixing large and small patterns and using various sizes of foam boards helps create contrast and interest in your prints.
3. Create your Borders
To create even borders around your print, or to plan a layout of multiple prints on one large piece of paper, draw light pencil marks where you plan to print your design. This will help with positioning. You can use a ruler or straight edge, or trace around the non-inked styrofoam plates. You don’t have to be this precise if you don’t want to.
4. Add some ink
After you have covered your work area with a tarp or disposable covering, decide what color you would like your print to be. Put ink into the flat container and roll the brayer back and forth to cover the entire roller with ink. Roll over your foam plate several times until there are no bare spots. If you are using a foam brush, dab the ink on as evenly as you can. If you get ink on your hands, be sure to wash and dry them before touching your paper to keep from getting fingerprints on it.
5. Press on your design
Place foam plate, ink side down, on a piece of paper. Gently press and rub your fingers over the foam making sure the entire surface of the plate is in contact with the paper. You can use a paper towel or extra piece of recycled paper to lay over top of your foam plate before rubbing to help keep the edges of your print clean.
6. Do it again!
Carefully lift the foam plate off the printed paper. Remember, perfection isn’t the goal. If you would like to use the same foam plate with a different color, just gently wash the foam plate and the brayer with warm soapy water and dry with an old towel. Have fun; make more than one! Why not make multiple prints to share with friends and family?
If you like the way your foam plate looks with ink on it, let it dry and then glue it to a piece of paper ink side up. The plates will have a darker tone than the prints themselves.
Have friends or family each create their own unique patterns. Make a larger collage with all the prints.
If you don’t have styrofoam, try printing with a plastic sandwich bag! Brush one color of paint onto a bag, doodle designs into the paint with a Q-tip, and flip it onto a piece of paper. Gently pat, then peel off, and you’ll have a print.
This idea brought to you by Maggie Burgan.
Simply Tie Knots to Create Macramé
Macramé is an ancient fiber art that uses knots to create items that are both useful and beautiful. This activity inspired by Wall Hanging 3 by Tanya Aguiñiga uses only square knots. It is easy for beginners and for young children, with help from parents.
About the Artist:
Growing up in Mexico and California, Tanya Aguiñiga discovered a passion for making things with her hands. As a child, she got her start in fiber art by turning shredded palm fronds into jewelry and selling it to her neighbors! Today, she uses her artist/designer/activist voice to address social issues with creativity and compassion.
• Cardboard or clipboard for holding your work
• Macramé cord- this can be rope, twine or yarn cut to desired length (3 feet is a good length for beginners/young children)
• Support, something to tie your cords to- dowel, branch, straw or ruler (Your yarn will be attached to this)
1. Start by cutting your cord or yarn.
Three foot pieces (3’) are a good length to start with. You will need at least two pieces to practice tying square knots. Tape your support to the cardboard then anchor pieces to it using a simple loop called a Larks Head.
You’ll need 4 cords or strands to make a square knot.
2. Tie a Knot
Bring the ends of each cord together to find the middle. Loop it midway over your support then feed the ends through. This is called a Lark’s Head knot. Repeat with each cord. You’ll be using the Left and Right strands for knotting; the two center strands don’t move.
3. Make a Loop
Take the Left strand and make a loop over the center strands, then the Right one goes over the Left’s “tail” and through the loop in back. Then tighten. Now you’ve made a Half Square knot.
4. Now do the reverse!
Loop the Right strand, Left strand goes over the tail and through the loop in the back. Tighten the Square Knot you just made. You can keep repeating the same knots to make a chain. Here is a little trick to help you as you work:
Left over Right, tuck under. Right over Left, tuck under.
Using just square knots, you can make a chain for a bracelet or keychain. Add a few more strands and you can make a wall hanging. You can even add beads to your work!
Even young children can experiment with freeform knotting. Get them started and let them go!
Try a more advanced approach using 5 cords. Start your knots lower and skip the outer cords after the first knot, then add them back. Then use all the cords to make a large square knot. Feel free to experiment, you can always untie and start again!
“Meet” the artist in this Craft in America video (13 minutes)
Personalize your space with a tissue paper initial
Use small squares of tissue paper to create a colorful, textured initial to personalize your desk or room. This project is inspired by Pilar Albarracín’s Ceiling of Offerings, a sculptural installation made of 724 flamenco dresses suspended from the ceiling. From below, the ruffled material looks like a floating bouquet of colorful flowers.
About the Artist:
Spanish artist Pilar Albarracín creates performance, video, and installation art. She often creates challenging art about identity, culture, gender, and heritage.
• Cardboard cut-out of your favorite initial (or other symbol/shape)
• Colored tissue paper squares (1” and 2” work well)
• Tarp or table covering that can get dirty
Choose tissue paper colors that best represent you, and cut into small squares. Wrap the squares (one at a time) over the eraser end of a pencil to create a flower-like shape. Dab a small amount of glue to the bottom of the tissue paper, and lightly press onto your cardboard. Repeat the process until your cardboard is covered. The closer you place them together, the fuller the effect.
You can clump colors together or go with a random approach – either way, have fun! This process is simple, but you will find that it helps with focus and relaxation.
Draw a block-letter initial or a symbol onto a piece of cardboard, instead of cutting out a shape. Fill in the shape first, and then fill in or paint the background area.
Glue a smaller size tissue square inside of a larger one to create dimension. Use a complementary color for variation.
Purchase pre-cut tissue paper squares.
This idea brought to you by Maggie Burgan.
Summer Wheat’s monumental Foragers underscores the Mint’s ongoing commitment to women artists, perspectives historically underrepresented in museums
By Michael J. Solender
Uptown visitors meet with a fresh sensory experience this fall as Mint Museum Uptown reopens its doors following the Covid-mandated lockdown. As guests enter the towering glass-paneled Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium, they’re enveloped in warm jewel-toned light bathing the space of the new 96-panel “stained glass” installation Foragers by contemporary American artist Summer Wheat.
And while the quiet beauty of hand-drawn, collaged and placed colored vinyl panels encourage many to slow their pace and reflect in the grandeur, the imagery of strong, powerful women, taking on traditional male roles of hunters and providers, makes a clear and confident statement—women are represented on their own terms, making vital contributions.
The messaging is not accidental. Wheat’s work is deliberate in pushing back on gender objectification and unidimensional portrayal often depicted in museum collections. “Histories we tell, and the histories told to us are never really true,” Wheat says, her slight Oklahoma drawl elongating her cadence. “They’re only telling one side of the story, and there’s a lot that’s left out.”
Wheat, a mid-career artist whose work has been displayed in museums only within the past few years, is bucking a trend unfavorable to women. Just 11 percent of all acquisitions and 14 percent of exhibitions at 26 prominent American museums over the past decade were of work by female artists, according to a recent study by art market information company Artnet.
Recognizing this historical underrepresentation of women’s voices on public display, the Mint is leading the way to better balance the scales. “We have a strong community partner and advocate in Wells Fargo whose values align so closely with the museum on this important social and cultural issue,” says Todd Herman, Mint Museum President & CEO, “Something we really admire and treasure in the relationship we’ve had with Wells Fargo is they collaborate with us and push us further in ways that make the community better. Their Women Artist Fund and their support of our Foragers installation is a wonderful example of that.”
Charlotte knows Wells Fargo as a significant community partner and stalwart investor in our region’s diversity and success. Their foundation focuses on projects and innovation at the community level such as awareness and social change, increasing housing affordability, and access to capital for businesses. Last year, they contributed more than $14 million in support of projects and programing in the Charlotte region. In addition to programmatic work with quantitative measure, like the number of low-income individuals placed into safe and affordable housing, a component of the foundation’s work focuses on bringing perspectives and understanding to social issues through the arts.
“As company, we’re one of the largest small business lenders to women owned businesses,” says Jay Everette, Wells Fargo’s senior vice president of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. “With the arts and culture sector of our [philanthropic] work, we realize putting a focus on female artists helps elevate and escalate women’s voices through promoting their artwork. Not only is Foragers a significant work by an important female artist, it’s also public art that anybody can come in and access without having to pay a fee.”
It was the Mint Museum’s 80th anniversary celebration and the 2016 Women of Abstract Expressionism exhibition that served as a catalyst for the formation of the Wells Fargo Foundation Women Artist Fund according to Everette. “We were beginning to formulate some of the strategies on this and through the exhibition discovered there were a group of other women artists leading the way in the movement. But they did not have gallery representation. They were not being picked up by museums after the abstract expressionist movement.”
Inspired, the Wells Fargo Foundation set about to address and help reconcile the imbalance of female representation in museum collections. “The Women Artist Fund was established three years ago, and we’ve been successful in helping to place and acquire seminal pieces of art in permanent museum collections across North Carolina,” says Everette. Other museums benefiting from the program include the Cameron Museum of Art in Wilmington, The Weatherspoon Museum of Art in Greensboro, and The Blowing Rock Art Museum in Blowing Rock.
Admirers of Summer Wheat’s Foragers, on display through September 6, 2022, will be pleased to note that through the generosity of The Wells Fargo Foundation Women Artist Fund, the artist’s work With Side, With Shoulder, a large painting where Wheat’s technique extrudes paint through wire mesh, has been acquired for the Mint’s permanent collection.
Mary Myers Dwelle, one of the Mint’s female founders would undoubtedly be pleased.
Foragers is part of the exhibition In Vivid Color: Pushing the Boundaries of Perception in Contemporary Art that opens Oct. 16 at Mint Museum Uptown.
Michael J. Solender is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, American City Business Journals, Metropolis Magazine, Business North Carolina, the Charlotte Observer, and others. He develops custom content and communications for businesses and organizations.
Collaged Memory Box
In this collage project inspired by Romare Bearden’s Evening of the Gray Cat, you can create an artistic Collaged Memory Box to celebrate a special person, place, or journey. Cut, paste, and collage your story on the lid, and keep favorite mementos inside the box.
As a child, Romare Bearden traveled to Charlotte each summer to visit his great-grandparents. Many years later, he created a series of art called “Mecklenburg Memories,” inspired by his recollections of North Carolina in the early decades of the 1900’s.
Can you find the gray cat in this scene?
“A work of art can always keep growing. You can always add something to it each time you see it.”
About the Artist:
Romare Bearden was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1911. At a young age, he moved with his parents to Harlem, in New York City to seek opportunities that weren’t available to African Americans in the south. As an adult, Bearden became known as one of the most important American artists of the 20th century. Combining images from magazines, prints, and colored and textured papers to create collage “paintings,” his art told many stories about the Black experience, classical literature and art, and cultural history.
• Shoe box, or any box with a lid
• Piece of paper cut the size of the box lid
• Small paintbrush to paint glue onto paper
• Small container for glue (add a drop or two of water)
• Collage material cut from magazines, catalogs, recycled artwork, envelopes, photos, greeting cards etc.
• Optional: White paper and markers or paint to create your own collage paper
To make some of your own hand-painted papers like Bearden did, use markers or paints to create patterned and colorful papers. When they dry, cut them into shapes or add to the background. Check out the other Mint Museum Create at Home projects for some inspiration.
Gather your supplies. Look through the collage materials for images and patterns that appeal to you or bring back a memory. Draw out any elements you would like to add.
Cut out your shapes and elements, and start arranging them onto the box lid, or onto a piece of paper the size of your lid that you’ll glue down to the lid. Layer and overlap the pieces to add more depth to your collage, and play with different placements.
Once you’ve chosen your final arrangement, it’s time to glue. Put some glue in a small container and add a few drops of water to thin it. Using a paintbrush to apply the glue, paint a thin layer of glue to the back of each piece or to the surface, making sure to secure the edges.
When you’re finished gluing, look at your collage and think about the images you chose and how they relate to your memories. What feelings come up? This gray cat feels proud that his picture made it into our collage!
Option: Write a note, short story, or poem about your project inspiration and drop it in the box. Our project was inspired by fun memories of traveling with a good friend.
Challenge: Fill the background with a grid of horizontal and vertical rectangles of different sizes and colors, then build your collage on top of it.
Simplify: Instead of a box, collage onto a colorful piece of paper. This makes it easier to fill your space.
Learn More: There are so many great resources about Romare Bearden! Below are a few. As you view his art, look for some of these themes:
Trains, large hands, birds, musicians, windows, cats, roosters, the sun, the moon
• YouTube Video: Trains, Snakes, and Guitars- The Art of Romare Bearden
A stalwart supporter of the arts and dedicated staff member at the Mint, Herb Cohen provides an oral history of The Mint Museum
Herb Cohen, a well-respected potter, has been a part of the Mint family since the late 1950s and is still an active member of the Mint and the Delhom Service League. First working with clay at the age of 6 at the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Herb earned two degrees in ceramics at Alfred University before becoming a designer for Hyalyn Porcelain Company in Hickory, North Carolina.
After two years at Hyalyn, he moved to Charlotte in 1958, and immediately became involved with the Mint Museum Drama Guild. He and his husband, José Fumero, a textile artist and painter, designed and built sets and costumes, as well as appearing onstage. This was the beginning of Cohen wearing many hats on the Mint staff, including exhibition designer, ceramics teacher, interim museum director (twice!), and exhibits director. In 1972, he and Fumero moved to Blowing Rock to pursue their art full-time, but never lost touch with the Mint.
During the 38 years in Blowing Rock, Cohen made his living as a potter, was a founder of the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, and served on the boards of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, Piedmont Craftsman, and the American Craft Council. After he and Fumero returned to Charlotte in 2010, Cohen became active with the Delhom Service League and the Potters Market Invitational. In 2012, the Mint celebrated his work with the exhibition, Sophisticated Surfaces: The Pottery of Herb Cohen.
The following interviews were conducted by Brian Gallagher, curator of decorative arts, and Ellen Show, archivist at Mint Museum Randolph during the summer of 2017. Cohen discusses his career at the Mint Museum, his life as a potter and artist, his experiences with the Mint Museum Drama Guild, and, during a walking tour, describes what the Mint Museum Randolph building was like before and after the 1967 expansion.
Interview 1 – June 12, 2017: Cohen’s roles at The Mint Museum
Gallagher talks with Cohen about his years on staff at the Mint Museum, which ran from 1958 to 1972. Cohen began as a volunteer exhibition installer and Mint Museum Drama Guild technician and actor, and went on to become exhibition designer, interim museum director (twice!), ceramics instructor, and exhibits director.
Interview 2 – June 26, 2017: Cohen’s Life in the Arts
Cohen discusses his relationship with the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and its contribution to his studying ceramics at Alfred University, his singing at Madison Square Garden and on Broadway as a child, and his work as a potter in North Carolina.
Interview 3 – July 10, 2017: The Mint Museum Drama Guild
Ellen Show talks with Cohen about his experiences working with the Mint Museum Drama Guild. Highlights of their conversation include stories about Drama Guild founder Dorothy Masterson, and memories of other guild members, including Jan Karon, Leon Rippy, and his husband, artist Jose Fumero.
Interview 4 – Aug. 18, 2017
A walk-and-talk through the original staff areas of Mint Museum Randolph. Cohen remembers the spaces as they were in the late 1950s to 1960s.
Interview 5 – Sept. 12, 2017
A walk-and-talk around the original gallery spaces of Mint Museum Randolph. Cohen describes the spaces before and after the 1967 building expansion.
Building on talent and tradition, ceramic artists leave their mark through clay creations in the Mint’s permanent collection
By Annie Carlano, Senior Curator of Craft, Design & Fashion, and Rebecca Elliot, Assistant Curator of Craft, Design & Fashion
Locally, across the country, and across the pond, North Carolina is known as the “clay state.” With an abundance of clay in the soil from the Piedmont to the mountains, centuries of pottery making, and generations of families making objects of exceptional craft and design, by the early 20th century an appreciation for North Carolina ceramics grew. In the 1960s, amid the back-to-the-earth cultural movement, pottery was collected, exhibited, and published widely, and the was the subject of scholarly inquiries and symposia.
Building on the talent and traditions of the past, in the 21st century, North Carolina has attracted potters and sculptors from throughout the world who seek good local clay bodies, but a community of makers and a lifestyle that values simplicity.
North Carolina ceramics is one of the great strengths of the Mint Museum’s permanent collection. Its contemporary holdings continue to grow through the generosity of many individuals. Striving to represent the full range of artistic production throughout the state, the Mint has amassed a collection that includes jugs, tableware, sculpture, and installation art. A sampling is featured here for your enjoyment.
Fine functional and decorative objects are also featured in the Mint Museum Store at Mint Museum Uptown.
Cristina Córdova’s figurative installation, Preludios y Partidas, commands a wall at one end of the Clay Gallery on Level 3 at Mint Museum Uptown. This subtle yet powerful psychological work was created nearly a decade ago yet is prescient. Córdova says: “In understanding this piece as a metaphorical topography, I wanted to use the title to hint as to what that corresponding psycho-emotional space would be. This landscape is one of transition and like the reference to the distillment of reason and logic from uncertainty and chaos, these figures are in the preliminary charged states (preludios) before a great action (partidas). Although the floating concrete elements could hint of the residual vestiges of a previous reality, I am not thinking of it as further leading to an ending but to the beginning of a new cycle. Common to the human experience are profound shifts where the ground gives way and one is thrust into powerful periods of self-reflection, growth, and renewed vision; this is how this space looks in my mind right before the next grand launch.”
Born in Boston, raised in Puerto Rico, Córdova received a BA, magna cum laude, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, Colegio de Agricultura y Artes Mecánicas, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, in 1998, and an MFA in Ceramics from New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University, Alfred, New York, in 2002. Her sculptures are included in other prestigious museum collections including the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts, Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico, and the Mobile Museum in Alabama, as well as important private collections. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, she currently lives and works at Penland School of Craft in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Two Tall Vases form an elegant sculptural pair illustrating the skill and aesthetic of clay artist and entrepreneur Alex Matisse. The large vessel forms are beautifully shaped with hints of the handmade in the faint throwing lines and gracefully manipulated drip glazes. Based on traditional North Carolina storage jugs and inspired by English and Asian wares, Two Tall Vases signal a transitional period in Matisse’s career, when his mastery of regional forms and global techniques led to a period of experimentation and the emergence of his unique contemporary style.
Matisse grew up in Groton, Massachusetts and studied at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina where he discovered the rich history of the ceramics of our state. Dropping out of college to undertake apprenticeships with Matt Jones and Mark Hewitt, he started East Fork Pottery at the age of 25 along with his now wife Connie Coady Matisse, and John Vigeland. East Fork Pottery was founded on the principles of William Morris (British, 1834- 1896) that life is improved by living with objects that are beautiful, handmade, useful, and affordable. With their clean lines and muted colors, the simple everyday tableware and objects are staples in several restaurant dining rooms and are popular on wedding registries.
In Storage Jar, with its broad strong rim, a robust vernacular shape is transformed into an elegant vessel, through its small delicate handles, surfaces markings, and glaze. Matt Jones achieves a timelessness in this and other works in the Mint’s collection through his deep knowledge and mastery of historic forms, the wood firing process, salt and alkaline glazes, and slip trailing. According to Jones, “It is important to me that my work is grounded in the Carolina traditions that go back 150 years, but I feel quite free to incorporate a modern sensibility and ideas from other cultures.”
Matt Jones fell in love with clay as a student at Earlham College in Indiana. His academic education was followed by an apprenticeship with Todd Piker at Cornwall Bridge Pottery in Connecticut, and another with Mark Hewitt of Pittsboro, North Carolina. In 1998 Jones set up his own pottery studio in Leicester, North Carolina. Today the studio is owned and run by Matt and his wife Christine. Using blue pipe clay—so named because it was once used to make pipe tobacco heads—Matt Jones continues to make a variety of garden pots and vessels.
The MiSe Vase is a stunning example of Ben Owen III’s artistry. Though massive in size, it is perfectly symmetrical, displaying Owen’s great skill in throwing pots at any scale. The vessel’s rich blue color with hints of burgundy around the rim and on the handles demonstrates his mastery of a wide variety of glazes and his willingness to continually push himself to develop new glaze types. Its shape and the title MiSe reflect his knowledge of Asian ceramics, especially the Chinese ceramics tradition. In 2007, Owen traveled to China as part of a delegation of American political and community leaders and had the honor of presenting his work as gifts for the delegation’s Chinese hosts. During that trip, he also visited museums and pottery villages in China and Japan.
Owen comes from a long line of potters who settled North Carolina in the eighteenth century and made functional wares for the next two hundred years. Owen learned pottery beginning at the age of 8 from his grandfather, Ben Owen Sr., who had worked at Jugtown Pottery near Seagrove and later established his own pottery, Old Plank Road Pottery in Westmoore, North Carolina. Ben Owen III studied business at Pfeiffer University and earned a BFA in ceramics from East Carolina University in 1993. During the 1990s, he traveled to visit potters in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Since 1999, he has operated his own studio at the Old Plank Road Pottery.
This Large Jar by David Stuempfle illustrates his skill at throwing large forms and achieving interesting glazing effects solely through the chemical reaction of clay and wood ash in the kiln. Dripping lines of brown and splotches of off-white add visual interest and complement the jar’s round form, accenting its background hues of rich brown, beige, and charcoal gray. Stuempfle makes his own clay body and slip from a mix of clay from his land and elsewhere in Seagrove, North Carolina, and commercially mined clays.
Originally from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Stuempfle first studied ceramics at the High Mowing School in New Hampshire. He then worked for many years as a journeyman potter in various states, including Tennessee and Wisconsin, as well as in Asia. When he relocated to North Carolina, he worked first for M.L. Owens Pottery and Jugtown Pottery before settling permanently in Seagrove. He built his wood-burning kiln there in 1992 and specialized in salt-glazed stoneware for several years but has recently stopped using salt glaze. His sources of inspiration include Chinese, Japanese, and Korean pottery.
On this lidded jar, Pam Owens has thrown a classic shape inspired by traditional Asian vases and complemented it with glazes in rich jewel tones of deep turquoise, burgundy, blue, and purple. The placement of the burgundy glaze around the jar’s shoulder highlights the elegance of its form. The jar’s small scale and silver lid further indicate that its purpose is decorative. The lid is by Jennie (Jennifer) Lorette Keatts, Pam’s sister, a jeweler in Seagrove, NC whose jewelry often features glazed ceramic “gems” made at Jugtown Pottery.
The Lorette sisters were raised in New Hampshire. Pamela first studied pottery there in 1975 and became an apprentice at Jugtown in 1977. After further apprenticeships in New Hampshire, she returned to Jugtown in 1980 and three years later married its owner Vernon Owens. Since then they have been the principal potters, as well as managers of this historic pottery, which was founded in 1921 by Jacques and Juliana Busbee. The Busbees were artists from Raleigh who sought to reinvigorate the North Carolina pottery tradition by introducing Asian forms and glazes. The grandfather of Ben Owen III, Ben Owen senior, worked at Jugtown Pottery as a potter from 1923 to 1959. Ben Owen and Vernon Owens are from the same family line, although Vernon’s grandfather added the ‘s’ to his name.
What’s the difference between pottery and ceramics?
Ceramics are clay objects that have been heated and chemically changed. Clay is porous and water-soluble, but ceramics are not. Pottery is a subcategory of ceramics that refers to vessels but not sculptures. The vessels can be functional or not. Pottery also has something of a rustic connotation, such that earthenware and stoneware are called pottery, whereas porcelain objects are called ceramics.
Perfectly pottery: Shop 8 of NC’s top pottery makers wares at The Mint Museum Store
The Mint Museum Store is a one-stop-shop to see many different styles of some of North Carolina’s top pottery artists, including Ben Owen, East Fork Pottery, and Erin Janow. Throughout the month of September all pottery at the store is 25% off. Start your holiday shopping with a visit to the store, and learn about some of the top pottery makers represented at The Mint Museum.
Ben Owen III
Ben Owen III continues a family tradition of pottery making that dates back to the 1700’s. His forefathers came to North Carolina from England to poly their craft and furnish storage jars and other utilitarian wares to early settlers. One of the most acclaimed and collected of today’s current North Carolina potters, Owen began his craft at an early age under the tutelage of his grandfather, Ben Owen I, a master potter himself. Owen went on to formally study ceramics at East Carolina University, where he garnered many awards and a BFA in ceramics in 1993. His pottery reflects a foundation in traditional designs alongside Asian influence. His work can be found in many museums including ours, The Mint Museum. Also, notably, The Smithsonian Museum of Art and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Singer/songwriter James Taylor and golfer Arnold Palmer are among the notables whose collections include works by Ben Owen III.
Dean and Martin Pottery
Jeff Dean and Stephanie Nicole Martin, both born and raised in the heart of North Carolina, rely on their love of nature and the land as inspiration for living the life of potters. Jeff received a BFA in ceramic design from East Carolina University. Balancing form, function and design, his forms usually come from something seen on a city walk or in nature. Stephanie received a BFA in design with a concentration in ceramics from UNC-Greensboro. Often utilizing digital, as well as printmaking, techniques, she builds the surfaces of her vessels. She makes hand-built and wheel-thrown objects using color, pattern, floral and figurative images to evoke a feeling of nostalgia. Watching her grandmother sew and quilt influenced her sense of craft and design, as well as her love of 1960’s and 70’s culture and music.
East Fork Pottery
East Fork Pottery, founded in 2010 by Alexander Matisse (great-grandson of Henri Matisse) and Connie Coady, is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina. East Fork designs, manufactures and sells durable ceramic dishware. Their lines are simple and fundamental. Unadorned, the work is distilled to its essential elements: form and function. It is durable and timeless, resistant to fashion and trends. Alexander along with their team of talented artisans, make their pots with dynamic, iron-rich clays dug from the American south East and colored with glazes formulated and mixed in-house. The glazes are often limited-edition colors and the collection of colors we have in the store, are from a limited batch, unavailable now from the studio itself.
Erin Janow is a potter, a wife, a mother, and a cook. Born and raised in Indiana, Erin graduated from Indiana University earning a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Art History. She began her apprenticeship working for Magnum Pottery in North Carolina as an understudy, honing her craft there for nearly seven years. In January 2009, she ventured forth as a solo potter to develop her own line. She began devoting much of her time developing new glazes and techniques and, along with her husband, a jewelry maker, working in a studio conveniently found in the basement of their home in Asheville. Erin has said, “My work is designed to be user friendly and functional. Because I also have a passion for cooking and family, my hope is that others will find happiness using my pottery when cooking meals for their families, in turn.”
John Ransmeier grew up in Asheville, North Carolina. John was introduced to clay in 1968, and just two years later, he built his first kick wheel. John worked with many potters perfecting his art and co-founded the Biltmore Clay Company in Asheville in 1976. His work can be seen in galleries throughout the country and has been collected by such notables as Oprah Winfrey. The daily challenges of ceramic materials and techniques become rewards when he passes on his work to a receptive new owner.
Jugtown Pottery is a working pottery and an American Craft Shop located in a grove of trees and bamboo eight miles south of Seagrove, in Moore County, NC. It is just off Busbee Road, a road named for Jacques and Juliana Busbee, the founders of Jugtown. Both artists with a love of craft and form, together they created Jugtown Pottery, melding forms from ancient traditions with those developed in North Carolina. In 1917 they created The Village Store and Tea Room in New York City, and in 1922 they began stamping each piece with the circular Jugtown Ware stamp.
The forms derive from simplicity and practice, a continuous line, then a complimentary glaze and occasional decoration. Drawing from the North Carolina tradition, you will find jugs, pitchers and candlesticks in wood fired Salt Glaze and Frogskin, and tableware in green, blue, brown, and gray. Vases, bowls, and jars in glazes made with wood ash, local clays, copper reds, greens, and iron earth tones, have origins in world clay traditions.Jugtown thrives on the aesthetic foundation laid out by the Busbee’s. Vernon Owens, recipient of the NC Folk Heritage Award and the NEA National Heritage Fellowship, wife Pam, son Travis and daughter Bayle are the main potters, while Bobby Owens mixes clay and glazes the pieces.
Turtle Island Pottery
Owned by Maggie and Freeman Jones, Turtle Island Pottery is named for an American Indian creation story. In its simplest form, a turtle swam to the bottom of the waters that covered the world and brought up mud to make the land. Turtle hatched her eggs on this land, and everything has come from this. Maggie and Freeman have made their living from the very stuff of creation since 1984. Their handmade stoneware pottery is both functional and decorative, with a sculptural feel. Maggie says of her process, “When I think and plan about the clay and glazes in the heat of the kiln, I envision lava flowing, crystals growing and flowers blooming. Earth, air, fire and water minerals reacting with one another, like when the earth was being formed.”
Jim Whalen’s one-of-a-kind vessels are turned on a potter’s wheel, then burnished and coated with terra sigillata, an ultra-refined clay slip that can give a soft sheen when applied to bone-dry wares and, if polished or burnished while still damp, may give a high gloss. The ancient Greeks and Romans used this technique in lieu of glaze. After bisque firing, patterns and images are created with wax resist. The patterns he creates are sometimes mathematical, sometimes emotional, but always drawn from within and are intended to evoke images of an evolving planet. His unique firing process explores the lower temperature ranges of wood, salt, and soda, enhancing these patterns. Because the process is challenging and unpredictable, each piece achieves a uniqueness that is impossible to duplicate.
Recreate Ancient Ruins with leftover cardboard
You’ll just need a cardboard box and a few basic tools to create these ancient architectural ruins, inspired by the wood sculpture Pompeii by artist, architect, and furniture designer Po Shun Leong. This project can serve as a launching point to design your own imaginative architectural realm from cardboard scraps!
About the artist:
A man of many talents, Po Shun Leong creates complex wooden sculptures and boxes reimagining ancient sites like Mesa Verde, Pompeii, and Petra. He works with many different types of wood, and encourages artists to recycle their scraps into new art.
“Be joyous, use all your … scraps, and add to the sum total of beauty in this world.”
-Po Shun Leong
• Corrugated cardboard
• Medium- large bowl to trace
• Strong glue, like Elmer’s Glue-All or Alene’s Tacky Glue
• Masking tape
• Paper towel for wiping hands
• Extra cardboard (paperboard like cereal boxes, paper towel tubes, etc)
• To glue cardboard, add glue then hold the pieces together and count to 20.
• Use a small piece of masking tape to temporarily hold cardboard together while glue dries.
• Wet a cardboard box and leave it outside to dry to easily separate the corrugated layer from the smooth layers. The water dissolves the glue!
Use the bowl to trace a circle onto a large piece of cardboard. Peel some sections of the paper covering to reveal areas of texture. Keep the bowl nearby to hold small scraps of cardboard
Cut 4 cardboard rectangles, around 6” wide by 4” high. Peel the paper from both sides of the cardboard to reveal the corrugated piece in the middle. Add glue to the short end of the rectangle and roll into a column. Repeat with the other rectangles to make 4 columns.
Measure and cut 3 triangles, about 5” wide by 2” high. Stack and glue them together to create a pediment. Do the same with 3 rectangles, about 5” wide by 1” high, to create the tablature, or base for the pediment. Cut 12 small squares, about 1” by 1”. Create 4 bases for the columns by stacking and gluing 3 squares per base. When dry, stack and glue the pediment to the tablature and the columns to the bases.
Create the corner of a building ruin by cutting 2 rectangles and cutting away sections to look like brickwork. Use the leftover right angle triangles from your pediment to make braces to hold the two walls together. Or try a different cardboard construction idea to build a wall or building.
Add details to the architectural elements using cardboard scraps. Be creative and add your unique ideas to the structures. Glue the final pieces to the base and add finishing details.
Option: For younger artists, provide cereal boxes, tubes, and lighter paperboard, which is easier for young artists to cut and manipulate. Pre-cut some basic corrugated cardboard shapes to help trigger creative thinking.
Challenge: Start with a larger base and incorporate other recyclable materials into your design.
Simplify: Don’t worry about measurements and rulers, just start cutting shapes and let the process happen organically!
Learn more: Po Shun Leong’s website is a treasure trove of interesting information!
This idea brought to you by Leslie Strauss.