Experts look at future of pottery

Mint Museum symposium brings in a controversial critic and others to talk about ceramics movement

CorrespondentOctober 12, 2012 

  • Details What: Traditional Pottery: Back to the Future, symposium featuring critic Garth Clark. When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday. Where: Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road, Charlotte. Cost: Museum members, $20; nonmembers, $25. Reservations required. Info: 704-337-2021;

When Buncombe County-based potter Matt Jones took a swipe with his blog at internationally regarded art critic Garth Clark, his “critique of the critic” was a salvo that sent ceramic shards through studios and galleries across the country.

Jones, whose work is featured in Charlotte’s Mint Museum, got his dander up last year after hearing a recording of a lecture given by Clark, one of the art world’s pre-eminent critics and scholars of American crafts and fine ceramic art. Clark’s provocative talk at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Ore., “How Envy Killed the Crafts Movement,” garnered national attention. Jones’ rebuttal argued with Clark’s central thesis that the crafts movement was compromising its historic roots with many potters moving between an uneasy and envious relationship with fine art to one of resentment.

What ensued was a dialogue between Clark and Jones about the future of traditional pottery and a long-distance discussion that will culminate in the two meeting for the first time at the symposium, “Traditional Pottery: Back to the Future.” The event is Tuesday at the Mint Museum-Randolph, in Charlotte.

Jones and Clark, the keynote speaker, will be joined in the presentation by Pittsboro potter and ceramics authority Mark Hewitt and Charlotte Wainwright, founding director of the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at N.C. State University. The event has been organized by Barbara Perry, former Mint Museum curator of decorative arts.

“I felt Clark didn’t really understand North Carolina pottery,” said Jones.

Clark is spending a week in North Carolina to visit the potteries and talk with potters with Jones as his host.

“Those expecting some sort of anti-N.C. pottery antichrist will be very disappointed,” said Clark.

“I am not at all dismissive of the North Carolina tradition. As a critic I’m noting that there are some problems, there is not an automatic future.”

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