NCECA Annual Conference

NCECA 2011 Projects Space Artists


NCECA Projects Space: Migration

From an international pool, ten artists whose conceptual and material conversation takes them beyond the confines of their kiln were selected by jurors Portico Bowman, John Bryd and Linda Ganstrom. Each artist was provided a raw space of 10’ x 20’ and a stipend to present a live on-site specific installation or performance based artwork that explores the theme of migration during the 2011 NCECA conference.  Funded in part by an NEA grant, Projects Space is intended to act as a platform for experimental and innovative work that stretches the confines of the contemporary ceramic field.

Click on each name to view a sample of their work.


Sharan Elran
I am an immigrant from a tribe of immigrants, I am a modern nomad, I wonder around the world looking for new pasture. I know where I'm coming from; I know where I am now. I have no idea what is next. I moved to America from Israel. Being here for just a few years, I no longer feel part of my homeland, and not yet feel part of my new home and surroundings. So often it seems I am just a bureaucratic mess with too many documents in too many languages.   A designer and an artist, I employ modular forms, interplays of light and shade, and site specificity in order to investigate interrelations within the physical space. My piece is made from custom-made uniform bricks, designed and produced in collaboration with Juan Torres. These bricks have simple form that is used to create complex constructions of many kinds. They can be made into a shelter, a barrier, a meditative space, a landscape, an arch, or a maze. The construction does not require mortar; its stability is achieved through the relation and mutual support of the components. Each day of the exhibition, I plan to build a new structure from the same pile of bricks.


Brian Molanphy
'silly fuss' explores the migration of a 'squircle' from circle to square & from square to circle. Wordplay on the name of the mythological figure, Sisyphus, as well as a humorous take on his absurd task, provides the title. One may delight in the transmutation of lines, planes, & cubes into arcs, curved surfaces, & spheres. In this case that delight collides with the wild goose chase for the unattainable resolution of the circle & the square. The shape is always migrating: going from one place & approaching the next. Using only a ceramic straight edge, I will systematically build, un-build, & rebuild several combinations of the circle & the square. Depending on the time of day, the audience may see the process in action or they may see the (temporary) result of the most recent part of that process; the two differ very little. Freed from the demands of performance, I will work more meticulously within the rules prescribed by geometry for the transmutation of those devices mentioned: line, plane, cube, arc, curved surface, & sphere.


Eva Kwong
I am an immigrant. My family has migrated between the US and China for over 4 generations back and forth. My daughter just moved to Europe. “Next Migrations” is based on our human curiosity about other parts of the world. This innate curiosity has fueled our exploration of almost every corner of our planet. Our country is made up of immigrants going back many, many generations. What if this is reversed? What if Americans start to migrate to other countries? Where would they go? Where would we want to migrant to now? This interactive project investigates where we would migrate to next?  “Next Migrations” will start with a map of the countries and continents outlined with blue tape on the floor. A pile of 3,000 plus clay discs (representing the 300 million US population) would be placed on top of the US map. The clay discs will be made of different colors of clay referring to the different types of skin colors of Americans.  The audience, NCECA members, would be asked to select a clay disc and place it on the country they want to migrate to. The piles of clay discs at the end of the session would indicate where these migrations would lead to. How will the piles of clay discs change throughout the time of the conference?

Henny Linn Hjellberg
Built from porcelain and iron barbed wire a large-scale piece will be constructed, gradually closing its maker into a cage like structure, a network of wire that eventually, by the end of the work process, will be impossible to enter- or exit. Wire Works is an installation piece that comments on migration and geographical borders, physical boundaries and the space in-between. The work poses questions like: Why are we so often scared of the unfamiliar? Why do we feel a need to protect, fence ourselves in and build walls to keep the unknown outside?  Who is captive and who’s free?

Terri Frame
Pre Human, Posthuman, Inhuman is a performance that employs raw clay masks and “prosthetics” as a means for altering the human body. It takes place over the course of three days and totals eighteen hours. It addresses changing human bodies in six three-hour acts entitled Simians, Early Humans, Hybrids, Races, Proportions, and Posthumans, respectively. It is not merely a didactic or chronological enactment of the evolution of the human body, but rather an acknowledgement of the ways in which our notions of bodies have migrated throughout time and have been manifested in the arts and sciences. Human, Posthuman, Inhuman is a performance that takes place over the course of three days and totals eighteen hours. It addresses changing human bodies in six three-hour acts entitled Simians, Early Humans, Hybrids, Races, Proportions, and Posthumans, respectively. It is not merely a didactic or chronological enactment of the evolution of the human body, but rather an acknowledgement of the ways in which our notions of bodies have migrated throughout time and have been manifested in the arts and sciences. The etymology of the word Migration is traced back to the Latin verb Migrare, meaning to move or shift. I feel that my work speaks to this idea on many levels. Perhaps the most obvious, as mentioned above, is the protean, or shape-shifting aspect of my performances.

Tiny Circus
Tiny Circus is a collaborative and community-based art project that uses stop-motion animation to create and tell stories.  These stories are imagined histories of objects, ideas, or occurrences, and become part of our show, “The Other Histories of the World.”  
 At NCECA, Tiny Circus will work with conference attendees to create a brand-new animation entitled “The History of Migration.”  Come learn about stop-motion animation and be part of the film-making process -- while working collaboratively with Circus members!  Friday night, join the festivities at  the University of South Florida, celebrate at the National Juried Student Exhibition reception and watch a showing of “The Other Histories of the World” which will include the brand-new animation, “The History of Migration.”

Julia Haft-Candell
I am creating an active environment using materials including clay, fabric, wire and found objects. Each day the work will evolve and I will actively change with it. In the end the piece will be an environment of made up additions, the influence of my surroundings and the chemical change of the materials. My objective is to make delicate and precarious sculptural works that are abstract yet detailed mappings of the interior unknowns of the body. Beyond the figural reference in my work there is a larger theme emerging that attempts to speak about the delicate and tenuous interconnectedness of all things. Using small components to build larger forms allows me more freedom to continually invent, reassess and make endless decisions about how the work takes shape. The sculpture is a physical record of its making, and a reflection of its own history. Breaking is an essential part of this process. Ceramics is a medium that is extremely fragile, yet can be reconstructed with relative ease using epoxies and adhesives. Often I will break apart pieces to reconfigure them, creating collages using three-dimensional parts. Once a piece is composed I will put time into mending and drawing on the surface of the piece, reclaiming and giving value to what is broken or distressed. Migration is the systematic movement of a group of objects or organisms, from the micro to macroscopic scale. My practice echoes this concept in the way the whole work is comprised of many small parts building upon each other to make a complex structure.

Dawn Holder
“Of a Reciprocal Nature” is a dystopic, ephemeral landscape that explores the disruptive behavior of species out of place. Here, thousands of delicately crafted replicas of mussel shells and blades of grass are imbedded in a sculptural landscape created from wood, sand and unfired clay. This installation conveys the inherent tension between the natural world and the effects of commerce, the tension between vulnerability and aggression, beauty and decay, and, ultimately, life and death. The piece addresses the theme of migration by considering the ways in which economic development and the resulting migration of goods, people, and non-native species inadvertently alter various ecosystems. This project focuses on two particular species, the Asian Green Mussel (Perna viridis), first discovered in Tampa Bay in 1999 and Smooth Cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), first introduced in The Yangtze River Estuary around 1985. The beautiful yet destructive Asian Green Mussel is a species native to the southeastern coastal waters of China, and was most likely been introduced to the Tampa Bay through discarded ballast water. The Green Mussel has been rampantly destroying native oyster beds, as well as pilings, buoys, and boat hulls. I found the images of this organism as it encrusted various man-made structures both visually arresting and metaphorically potent.

Marianne McGrath
Human migration from city to suburb continues to change the American landscape. In my longing for the landscape I knew as a child, and witnessing what lies there today, I created this work merging three experiences-one witnessed, one remembered, one imagined-into a singular landscape. A field of roses, recalling both the name and processes of the land, rise on rods out of plywood roofs, reflecting the landscape as it is today. The roses, made of unfired clay and preserved in wax, are incredibly fragile and speak of the fleeting nature of memories and lost landscapes where these memories were formed. My ancestors came from Ireland in the 1860’s and settled on the then new plains of the American West. They carved up and divided lands, planting crops to aid the human growth that was occurring all around them. I grew up in those fields where my family made their livelihood for generations, but today where there were once rows of crops, there are suburban streets leading to tract housing, shopping malls, and freeway over passes. The idea of landscapes lost consumes my current work, and the processes, materials and forms from that landscape are reminiscent in this work. “What I See, What I Saw” is based on a ranch where I grew up and tells the story of my earliest memories of this landscape as a field of grain as far as the eye could see. When asked, my father explained it was called the Rose Ranch after the scores of rose plants my great grandmother once tended to at the spot, and in that instant I saw that sea of grain as a sea of roses. That sea of roses is now a sea of rooftops. A field of hand-formed earthenware roses rise on rods out of roofs of plywood homes. The roses, made of unfired clay and preserved in wax, are incredibly fragile and speak of the fleeting nature of memories and the lost landscape were this memory in particular was formed. The rods and plywood houses are made of industrial materials that now fill the landscape.  This work speaks of the human idea and need for home, the physical migration that pushes this need, and the price the landscape pays for this migration

Colby Parsons
Imagine a gray featureless forest inhabited by gray porcelain birds. Suddenly, there is a flutter of light and movement through the space, and one of the birds now seems to be alive, looking around, preening itself, represented in vivid light and realistic color, chirping, and calling. Each of the sculptural birds, in turn, converts from being a static, fixed representation, to a 3-D screen showing a video of what the form represents, and then later the image departs as quickly as it arrives. As this artificial bird migration proceeds porcelain birds handmade on site will be added throughout the conference.  My work is about changing the perception of static objects by adding layers of time-based sensory information such as video and sound. I am interested in the intersection of materiality and immateriality. The richness of density and mass conveys a presence that video lacks; however static media rarely convey a sense of truly dynamic immediacy in the same way a moving image can. The overlay of one on the other is an impure version of both, but also something new. 

NCECA would like to acknowledge their deep appreciation of S. Portico Bowman, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas for her volunteer service as the Projects Space Coordinator.  Her expertise and dedication in organizing and implementing this project is greatly valued.

…self revitalization, inspiration, like going to church for us "ceramic as a religion" zealots…
— Educator