This annual $2000 endowed award (formerly known as the Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation Scholarship) is presented annually by the Pottery Museum of Red Wing through the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. It may be awarded to a deserving individual who is pursuing a career as a potter or to a scholar studying or researching historical aspects of the pottery industry. The first award was presented in 2004.
The Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation endeavors to broaden the general public's appreciation of pottery, past and present. The Foundation maintains the Pottery Museum of Red Wing in Red Wing, Minnesota.
Nick Earl is a potter who lives in Stillwater, MN. He received his BA in Art from the University of Vermont, Burlington, in 2011, and apprenticed with potter Dick Cooter in Two Harbors, Minnesota, from 2012-2014. Nick currently maintains his studio at the Abnet Farm 8 miles north of Stillwater. His wheel-thrown pots are influenced by medieval Korean, Japanese and English pottery, as well as by nature, food, and imperfection.
Earl says about his work:
I make pots and am continually fascinated by the softness and reception of the clay from which they are made. When successful, these qualities translate into the finished pieces, objects that will hopefully enrich the regular ceremonies of life.
I have a strong interest in art history and I try to exhibit the strength and beauty I see in old pots in my own work. Cooking is also of great interest to me and my work being mostly functional has a lot to do with the storage, preparation, and presentation of food.
My atmospheric fired, ceramic work on nature-related sculptural pieces that are also functional. Shinrin-yoku, a Japanese term that means "Taking in the forest atmosphere," has been very influential in my clay work. There is evidence that this type of nature therapy improves both physical and mental health. Through the creation of nature-inspired ceramic work, I hope to elicit a sense of shin-yoku and impart a pleasant feeling onto the beholder. When direct and prolonged contact with nature is not accessible, it is my hope that a special woodland art piece will evoke a similar calm spirit. I strongly believe in hand sculpting each piece to fully reflect the realistic and beautiful imperfections that my main subjects are based upon. With great effort and proficiency, my goal is to create innately organiz impressions and intuitive pieces that portray balance and harmony. When my work reached the hands of its owner/user, I hope it bestows an insight into the goodness of life.
2022 Artist Statement:
As a self-taught ceramic artist, intense research and a literal hands-on approach to the clay medium has been essential for Katharine Eksuzian to achieve professional standards. Eksuzian began her ceramic enthrallment in 2015 at the Minnesota Northern Clay Center, where she currently maintains a studio and stays connected with the art community. With a home studio in Victoria, MN, and relationships with both the American Craft Council and MN galleries, a full-time ceramic vocation has come into fruition. With strong ties to environmentalism and a passion/appreciation for nature, innate connections have been made in ceramics and culture.
Eksuzian’s atmospheric fired, ceramic work focuses on nature-related sculptural/functional pieces. She strongly believes in hand sculpting each piece to fully reflect the realistic and beautiful imperfections that her main subjects are based upon. With great effort and proficiency, her goal is to create organic impressions and intuitive pieces that portray balance and harmony. Eksuzian hopes these ceramics bestow an insight into the goodness of life.
As a 2020 and 2022 recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant in support of these themes, Eksuzian was able to create a solo exhibition at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and continue both her ceramic and botanical study explorations. Also noted among her accomplishments: an exhibition at the American Swedish Institute, recipient of a Red Wing CFS award, and a multi-time award winner at the MN State Fair Fine Arts Gallery.
Audra Smith received a BA from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and has been a staff member and teaching artist at Northern Clay Center since 2010.
Smith’s goals for her work are to make well-made, utilitarian pottery. She continually explores color, pattern, space and shape in her surface decoration, all of which inform the “ongoing discovery of [her] personal language as a ceramic artist.”
David "Swen" Swenson is a Minneapolis based ceramics instructor, artist and musician. He grew up in Rhode Island where he attended the Community College of Rhode Island before transferring and finishing his Bachelor's Degree of Fine Arts from Alfred University in upstate New York. After finishing school in 2009, he moved to Minnesota to pursue ceramics and began teaching in community education and after school programs across the Twin Cities area. Swen has been the recipient of various awards during his tenure in Minnesota including fellowships, residencies, grants and awards from Northern Clay Center, the Jerome Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and now the Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation. He is self employed, and currently maintains his studio practice in Minneapolis, and continues to teach regularly at various institutions as a private contractor.
"I use clay and sound to make most of my work. I make ceramics intended for daily utility, but also bounce between sculpture and pottery fairly regularly. I try not to have a hard agenda when I enter the studio to maintain a spontaneous and honest exploration. Solving technical problems keeps me fascinated.
"My favorite ceramics are old pots from various parts of the world. This current body of work discusses classic ideas and motifs in a contemporary interpretation. Specifically, I’ve been looking at historical pots from Iran, Japan, China, Korea, Turkey, Norway and Morocco. In an effort to develop personal style, I have quoted painted pattern structures and design methods to adapt them to my own forms. The resulting pots are hybrid in structure and surface from these sources."
Originally from a small rural town in NW Virginia, Anna Metcalfe now lives in Minneapolis where she graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2009 with her MFA. A professional artist and educator, Metcalfe is interested in how art can be a vehicle for social change and can reflect a concern for the environment, food cultures and creating vibrant communities. For Metcalfe, clay is the medium that weaves history, landscape, culture and art together. She is a recipient of several awards and grants, notably a Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist’s Project Grant for Public Art in 2009, a Jerome Foundation Study and Travel Grant in 2014 and two MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grants in 2013 and 2015.
She says about her work: “My art practice stems from a love of the natural world, good meals, and community engagement. My work strives to reframe our relationship to land and agriculture, and create meaningful ways to better understand each other. Clay, a medium that finds its way into every home - as a sink, a dish or a decorative object - is a ubiquitous and tactile material. I use it as a springboard for engagement. I often collaborate with community members who create narrative imagery and record stories
that I then weave into the pieces I make and events that I facilitate. These collaborations manifest in many ways: traditional recipes as narrated by family elders printed onto ceramic plates, water stories from teenagers on sculptural porcelain boats, and a
recorded account of making coffee in Ethiopia that brings meaning to a ceremonial set of coffee cups.”
Jason Trebs has been making pottery full time since 2004. Prior to that he completed two years of work and study with potter Robert Briscoe in Harris, MN. It was not a traditional apprenticeship; he had a space to work and in return helped Bob with studio tasks. Jason felt the benefits far outweighed the responsibilities.
Originally from Bigfork, MN, he is a graduate of Bemidji State University. Jason maintains a studio in St. Paul’s North End neighborhood and participates in art festivals across the country, including the Sun Valley Arts & Crafts Festival in Idaho and the annual Minnesota Potters of the Upper St. Croix Valley Tour. His work is represented in collections of the Weisman Art Museum, Anoka Ramsey Community College and in the Margaret Harlow Collection at Bemidji State. He was featured in a documentary film Minnesota Potters: Sharing the Fire and the “Crossroads” episode of the Craft in America series on PBS.
He states, "I strive to make useful art, that can make daily life more interesting and fun. I make functional stoneware pots using a potter’s wheel and a slab roller. I fire a 60 cubic ft downdraft kiln for 12 hours to peak temperature of 2350 degrees Fahrenheit. This creates a surface that is vitrified, durable and safe for food." I use a range of crackle slips, stains, and matte glazes. I tend to have a "less is more" approach and take on the most direct way to a form. I work with straightforward shapes that are open to interpretation and try to express an idea through the natural characteristics of the materials I use. I want the making of each pot to take its own direction while still relating to the ones that were made before and after it.”
Colleen Riley fell in love with ceramics in 1990 while taking the first class ever offered at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. For several years, she worked in clay part-time while running a Twin Cities graphic design business. In late 2004 Riley made the transition into full-time ceramics work after moving to a new home and studio in rural southern Dakota County.
From the beginning she has pursued a non-traditional approach to ceramics learning. In addition to coursework at the Northern Clay Center, she worked with accomplished artists in intensive workshops throughout the US. In 2008, in response to a transition to a more isolated rural setting, Riley founded Minnesota Women Ceramic Artists (MNWCA). MNWCA is a non-profit professional organization that hosts events, sponsors exhibitions and provides camaraderie for its 70+ members.
Her work is primarily functional high-fire light stoneware, with a current emphasis on serving pieces and vessels. Recent work merges the subtle patterns, colors and textures found in historic textiles, the graceful forms of early 20th-century design, and the rich surfaces achieved in soda and wood firing.
Colleen Riley's ceramics can be found at art fairs, events and galleries throughout the region. She describes her art: "My work captures and reveals the layers, patterns, and textures of my rural landscape, such as a carpet of decaying leaves in the woods, or the contours of a freshly plowed field. I strive to make functional pieces that are elegant, yet comfortable for use and inviting to the touch. My work celebrates the historic ceramic tradition of decorative botanical themes, while making an intimate connection to my imperfect and ever-changing environment. The graceful, fluid forms of early 20th-century European decorative objects, and the strong lines of mid-century furnishings and textiles are referenced in this work. Soda firing enhances the textures and gives a rich, aged quality to the clay’s surface. It adds an element of surprise that keeps the work interesting and ensures that each piece is lively and unique."
2022 Artist Statement:
My work captures and reveals the patterns and textures of my rural landscape. Each piece chronicles the seasonal cycles of growth and decay, as observed through a carpet of leaves in the woods or the contours of a freshly plowed field, serving as a reminder that our environment is constantly changing, yet resilient.
As a trained journalist, I view my ceramic work as a record of interactions with my surroundings and the impacts of pivotal family relationships. My mother was an accomplished seamstress and musician. At an early age I became intrigued by the designs of the patterns and fabrics she used. My own studies of music imprinted a sense of cadence and harmony. My father was an exuberant craftsman in many disciplines, who taught me to appreciate the beauty of good design, such as the Airstream trailer and an anvil storm cloud. These influences have made their way into my work.
I strive to make functional pieces that are elegant, yet comfortable for use and inviting to the touch. My work celebrates the historic ceramic tradition of employing decorative botanical themes, while making an intimate connection to my surroundings. The raw piece serves as a canvas to build imagery, layers, textures and color. Atmospheric firing gives a rich, aged quality to the clay’s surface. It adds an element of surprise, challenging me and ensuring that each piece is lively and unique.
Margeaux Claude, received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. While in Kansas City, she also interned with Andy Brayman at The Matter Factory. She is currently a studio assistant for Maren Kloppmann and is a sales gallery assistant at Northern Clay Center, where she also maintains her own studio. Claude hopes to use her award to further her research of mid-20th century techniques that are still employed today in factory settings.
JD is originally from Bismarck, ND and now resides in Kimball, MN, where he and his wife, Megan Jorgenson, operate Maine Prairie Studio, a ceramics studio, teaching space, and gallery. He received an BA from the University of Iowa in 1997. Since then, he has apprenticed with Richard Bresnahan, at the Saint John’s Pottery. He has taught ceramics classes and workshops at Northern Clay Center, Paramount Center for the Arts, White Bear Center for the Arts, and the Grand Marais Art Colony. Currently, he teaches at Maine Prairie Studio and Paramount Center for the Arts. JD’s functional work has been exhibited in galleries nationwide. He has taught workshops focused on techniques he learned during his apprenticeship that incorporate Japanese and Korean influences at: Grand Marais Art Colony, Northern Clay Center, White Bear Center for the Arts and Marlboro College in Vermont. He received the Jerome Foundation Visiting Artist Award at the Saint John’s Pottery in 2002, Red Wing Collectors Society Foundation Award in 2011 and Individual Artist Awards through the Central Minnesota Arts Board.
JD says, "I deeply believe that working with native or wild clays cultivates conversations and relationships between the material and the person. I strive in my process to understand the material for what it is through its strengths and limitations. There are stones and other minerals in the clays that make themselves known through the making and firing process, which I believe adds beauty. My voice and work is often a reflection of the source material."
2022 Artist Statement:
I deeply believe that working with native or wild clays cultivates conversations and relationships between the material and the person. I strive in my process to understand the material for what it is through its strengths and limitations. There are stones and other minerals in the clays that make themselves known through the making and firing process, which I believe adds beauty. My voice and work is often a reflection of the source material.
Kristin Pavelka grew up in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, earned a B.A. in Studio Art from Carleton College and an MFA in ceramics from Penn State University. She trained as a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana, the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, Maine, and the Tsugaru Kanayama Pottery in Goshogawara, Japan. She received a Jerome Foundation Grant in 2005 from the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. She headed the ceramics program at Hamline University for 5 years until leaving to become a full-time potter and mother. Her studio is located at her home in Maplewood, Minnesota.
Kristin states about her work, “I make functional earthenware pottery for everyday use and special occasions. My pots often wear colorfully patterned layers of candy-like glaze, referencing a myriad of influences from historical pottery, food presentation, architecture, mid-century design to Martha Stewart.”
Peter Jadoonath attended Bemidji State University where he earned a B.F.A. in studio ceramics and painting in 1998. His studies at BSU provided the “foundation of creativity” for Jadoonath that continues to have an influence on his work process and his development of new ideas. He exhibits work at local and national galleries as well as a handful of local informal sales. Jadoonath teaches at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis and at the Eagan Art House in Eagan, Minnesota. In 2007 he received a Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant.
Jadoonath creates stoneware pottery that focuses on “texture, balance, tension, negative space, and shadows.” He stated, “I find inspiration from scientific mystery, unexplained history, small complex ideas, and large simple ideas. Through my craft, it is important for me to honor timelessness, tradition, ancestors…. I strive for this by following my intuition, seeking self-realization, working hard, and gathering the patience to take risks.” Jadoonath forms his pots using the basic clay building concepts of “squeezing, paddling, throwing, pinching, coiling, folding, smashing, polishing, and carving.” The surface treatment is then built up with layers of colored slips and stains as well as layers of “pitted glazes and thin washes of glaze,” creating a skin that transforms and enhances the textured surfaces of his work.
Aaron Sober is a ceramic artist located in Mid-Coast Maine. He received his B.A. in ceramics from Macalester College in 2001. He was a special student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a core fellow at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina from 2004-2006. Sober was a 2007 Fogelberg Fellowship recipient at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. He exhibits at several national craft fairs and galleries.
Combining functional pottery and traditional brushwork, his work is intended for use.
Sober states about his work, “Like a pair of work boots, my pots are made to be durable and masculine, but also not without grace. As I strive to infuse functional forms with these qualities, I am interested in embellishing the surface with brushwork. The marriage of form and surface continues to fascinate me and motivate my work. As time passes, I am finding that the pots coming out of the kiln are getting simpler and less adorned. It is my hope that my pots become useful and intimate parts of people.” He continues, “Like all crafters, the process of making things is one that continues to satisfy, humble, and challenge. The relationship to a material undeniably shows through in every piece. As I go through a production cycle, I attempt to handle the clay in a direct, confident, and un-fussed manner. In doing so, it is my hope that the work has a strong and uncomplicated presence.” Inspired by the objects that we use the most, Aaron makes pots that are familiar, comfortable and ageless. All his work is food, microwave and dishwasher safe.
A. Blair Clemo is the Studio Manager and Pottery Instructor at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. He received his M.F.A. in Ceramics at the New York State College of Ceramics, at Alfred University in 2010. Originally from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Clemo spent many years in the West studying ceramics at the College of Southern Idaho and the University of Montana, Missoula. After completing his B.F.A. in 2006, Clemo worked as the Ceramic Materials Technician and Artist in Residence at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. His work has been included in numerous regional and national exhibitions.
Clemo states, “My current work is strongly influenced by the flagrant excess present in the ornate history of the European Decorative Arts, in particular porcelain and silver centerpieces and service ware. These objects flaunt their position at the center of the table as well as their owner's position in society. They serve food; however, their greater intent is to serve as a status symbol. I am interested in questioning how the opulence and stature of these objects operates when expressed through a contemporary studio pottery practice and what it reveals about our persistent desire to collect and display objects of value.”
Mike Helke is a studio potter and assistant professor of art at the University of Wisconsin River Falls-River Falls, WI. He grew up in Minnesota's St. Croix Valley where he still resides with his wife and two sons in Stillwater, MN. Since receiving an MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University-Alfred, NY in 2011, he has taught at various institutions including Carleton College-Northfield MN, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. In addition to family and teaching, he maintains a full-time studio practice in his home studio. This practice/research has been exhibited, presented, and published all over the country at organizations including, but not limited to, Harvard University-Boston, MA, the Anderson Ranch Art Center-Snowmass Village, CO, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft-Houston, TX, the Museum of Contemporary Craft-Portland, OR, and the Weisman Art Museum-Minneapolis, MN. Helke is a two-time Carleton College Dayton Hudson Distinguished Teacher/Artist recipient and has received grant awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Jerome Foundation.
Helke states about his work:
A garden responds to the attention of the gardener and the gardener responds to the needs of the garden. This daily exchange is a dialogue in which both participants reflect their role and changing needs and desires to one another. I liken this dialogue to the sort of call and response exchange that happens between my work and myself. This exchange dictates a gradual evolution in the making and understanding of the work. The relationship and evolution are linked to a sequence of occurrences that evolve as my desires for my work and my self slowly adapt to changing conditions of each new day. As our world becomes increasingly impersonal, a personal and authentic connection or exchange and understanding between self and other become increasingly difficult to find and realize. I appreciate the connection or self-awareness that making pottery brings into my life.
2022 Artist Statement:
Any source or experience could be the precursor to what physically happens in my work:
During a recent kitchen remodel I found myself working with wood for the first time. The directness and predictability of this building process was different from working with clay—my lack of both tools and carpentry skills served as limits to how I could use the wood. I was intrigued by the complexity of this minimalized language. This idea of limits makes me wonder: How might it translate in clay and what would this translation mean for an object?
As a maker, the action of my hand can trace the memory or energy of an experience through illusive rhythms generated by form, positive and negative shapes, and building process marks. This unpredictability prevents a sense of austerity and instead gives the work an unassuming but active sensibility. This can inspire a sensory response, visually and tactilely, offering a sense of pleasure, visually and conceptually, both for me as the maker and for the user. Instead of a lasting feeling of happiness, this state provides a momentary relief and a feeling of delight—a temporary sensation, almost, but not quite tangible or definable; a lively sensation made seductive by its fleetingness.
Each piece physically and conceptually records an animate sensibility derived from my experiences. This record is the catalyst for a call and response relationship that exists between maker, object, and user.
Ursula Hargens is a ceramic artist based in Minneapolis. She received an MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and an MA in Art & Art Education from Columbia University, Teachers College. She is a three-time McKnight Artist Fellow, has received multiple awards from the Jerome Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board, and was named 2020 Ceramic Artist of the Year by Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated. Ursula is co-founder of Minnesota New Institute for Ceramic Education (MN NICE), an advanced certificate program in ceramics, which she developed in 2014 in partnership with Northern Clay Center.
She writes about her work, "My pieces are colorful and decidedly decorative. I use flowers to create a decorative language that is animated, vivid and new. The flower assertively traverses the form, creating an active dialogue between form and decoration. This body work acknowledges earthenware as a material steeped in folk traditions. Simple motifs unfold to create layers of color, pattern and image, resulting in rich decorative surfaces."
2022 Artist Statement:
I love pots and ceramic history and am curious about how the objects we create stand as a record of our cultural values. I began covering my pottery forms in flowers to reclaim a language of decoration. Flowers blossom, compete, and sometimes unite as they traverse my vessels, creating a dialogue between form and surface. They are part of an ongoing conversation about embedded values, neglected vs. celebrated histories, and the transformative role functional objects can play in communities.
Rebecca Chappell received her M.F.A. from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2008 and her B.F.A. from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2003. She has participated in solo and group exhibitions across the U.S. She has been a resident of the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and ART 342 in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she also worked as a visiting professor of pottery at Colorado State University. Chappell was awarded the Evelyn Shapiro Foundation Fellowship in 2010. She currently resides in Philadelphia where she is a resident artist and class teacher at The Clay Studio.
Chappell states about her work, “Pots can be covert instruments for carrying messages. These objects, over time, through intimate actions with the human body, slowly reveal surprises and meanings that are contained within. They are a subtle way of communicating that need not be obviously aggressive or confrontational in order to have presence and importance. Patience, curiosity, and a willingness to play are all required to reveal the surprises that pots for use can contain. These objects are dependent on embedded memories, as well as the substances they hold or present in order to gain importance."