The Bellevue Arts Museum – Bellevue, Washington
January 19 to June 17, 2012

The 46th Annual NCECA Conference, “On the Edge”, will be held in Seattle, Washington at the Washington State Convention Center, March 28 – March 31, 2012. In conjunction with the conference, The Bellevue Arts Museum will host the 2012 NCECA Invitational “Push Play” from January 19 to June 17, 2012.

The NCECA Invitational is a themed, curated exhibition that features leading edge, large scale and often challenging ceramic art. Held in even-numbered years, a foundation group of works are selected by invitation; then additional artists are invited to submit images that support the theme for consideration. The submission process is open to all artists working in ceramics. This format brings established reputations and emerging talent to bear on the selected theme and adds vitality and fresh perspectives to an ongoing dialogue. A color catalogue documents the exhibition experience and contains artist statements, pertinent essays and color images of the art. The exhibition is curated and organized by NCECA Exhibitions Director, Linda Ganstrom.

The 2012 NCECA Invitational focuses on the importance of play as related to art and life.

2012 “PUSH PLAY” Participating Artists
Adrian Arleo Hannah Blackwell Rebekah Bogard
Brian Boldon Mark Chatterley Caroline Cheng
Kelly Connole Cristina Cordova Charlie Cummings
James Coquia Josh Deweese Magdolene Dykstra
Judy Fox Arthur Gonzalez Raymond Gonzalez
Margaret Keelan Clayton Keyes Henny Linn Kjellberg
Mika Laidlaw Sarah Lindley/Norwood Viviano David Linger
Megumi Naitoh Jessica Gardner Tara Polansky
Anne Drew Potter Derek Reeverts Diego Romero
Sam Scott Yoko Sekino-Bove Kiki Smith
Chris Staley Beth Cavener Stichter Ian Thomas/Ryder Richards
Christina  West Irina Zaytceva


Want to play? Such an invitation offers the possibility of learning through pleasurable, focused activity. Associated with nature, physical interaction and props, play allows the participant the freedom to observe, respond, interact and react in ways not prescribed, although some rules still apply with consequences for those who don’t play fair. The stories that evolve from play, in their authenticity, act as triggers for personal fantasy, artistic imagining and creative problem solving. The open nature of play and playthings endows them with the power to help establish gender roles, identity, social status and career roles. Governed by a set of rules or boundaries, an outside force directs gaming or sports play. As technology interfaces with gaming, play offers virtual experience, regulated and safe, but still exciting. No longer relegated to the realm of childhood, games simulate realities ranging from war to spiritual quests while assigning players alternative identities and enhanced personalities. What are the benefits and costs of these various types of play?

Is art play? Creativity lies at the heart of both art and play. When does play become art and how does skill figure into the mix? Artists often approach their work as highly focused play involving all their sentient faculties. Increasingly democratized by technology, art-making no longer requires the skills developed from material discipline. A movie can be filmed from a cell phone as evidenced by the 2010 Guggenheim and YouTube groundbreaking competition, “Play Biennial.” While everyone has potential as an artist, not all have the highly specialized skills to create artifacts with a marketable value. Where does ceramics fit in? Art making, particularly in clay, immerses the maker in sensual substance and offers an appealing alternative to technology and virtual reality play. The materials and processes of ceramics regulate the game. Whether intuitive or skillful, play in clay can be intensely engaging.
Sharing a neighborhood with the corporate offices of Nintendo and Microsoft, The Bellevue Arts Museum seems an appropriate place to investigate the question, “What is play today?” NCECA and BAM encourage artists to create works that “Push Play” up their 30 foot lobby walls to reach the gallery floors, weather the winter and spring outdoors, invite physical interaction and employ play as the subject of their art. Filling most of the second floor of the Bellevue Arts Museum, “Push Play” has room for large as well as more traditional format works.

Art is serious business, so too is play. This exhibition seeks to encourage artists to move into a realm where play and its connections to art, technology, individuality and community are investigated and celebrated, while stimulating thought and provoking conversation regarding the relevance of play in contemporary life. Ceramics is the perfect medium to “Push Play.”
Linda Ganstrom, Curator


“Loved the Baltimore exhibitions! (2005 Baltimore Conference Attendee) The clay exhibitions that are organized with the host cities are superb!”
2006 Portland Conference Attendee,