On January 26, Scripps College’s Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery will kick off its 75th Ceramic Annual. The Ceramic Annual is the longest-running exhibition of contemporary ceramics in the nation.
“It’s an honorable challenge to maintain the legacy of the Ceramic Annual, as it has thrived for 75 years,” says exhibition curator Kirk Delman. “Our aim is not just to keep it alive, but also to enlarge it and celebrate it.”
This year’s featured works have been selected from the College’s renowned Marer Collection. Delman has chosen 75 pieces by some of the most well-known and intriguing ceramic artists of the mid-20th century.
Midcentury was a turning point for ceramics, as artists were insisting that the medium could be used as skillfully as marble or paint to create high art. Peter Voulkos, a leader of the movement, extroverted art professor, and brilliant ceramicist, introduced Marer to scores of artists, many of them Voulkos’s students at the time. It was often Marer’s generosity that kept the lights on and food in the fridge so that they could devote time to their work. Those friendships lasted years, and Marer continued to purchase works, amassing the magnificent Marer collection.
“Works from the Marer collection have been shown in Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and across the U.S. These are works by artists who people will be familiar with, who over the past 40 years have shown up in major catalogues and history books,” says Delman. These influential artists include Billy Al Bengston, Michael Frimkess, Jun Kaneko, Karen Karnes, John Mason, Ken Price, Paul Soldner, Voulkos, and Beatrice Wood.
However, according to Delman, the 75th Ceramic Annual also features work by artists who may not be as well known, but who are just as revolutionary.
“Fred Marer had a keen eye and was supportive of and loyal to many artists,” he explains. “To honor his legacy and illuminate artists whose work hasn’t been seen in decades—work that broke new ground—we want to show strong pieces by those who may not have gotten national attention in the past.”
One such artist is Carlo Zauli, an Italian sculptor and ceramicist working at midcentury in the town of Faenza, home to a historical manufacture of glazed earthenware pottery. “Nothing like it has been seen in California in 50 years,” Delman continues, describing Zauli’s experimental white earthenware sculpture on a stainless-steel base resembling a wave.
The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery will host an opening reception with live music and light refreshments on Saturday, January 26, from 7:00 until 9:00 p.m. Also, on January 26 at 4:00 p.m., a presentation on the exhibition will be held at the Humanities Auditorium in the Edwards Humanities Building. These events are free and open to the public.
The exhibition will run from January 26 until Sunday, April 7. For more information, including gallery hours and location, please call (909) 670-3397 or visit rcwg.scrippscollege.edu.