Return to the Flame or Retreat from the Heat: The New Wheel Order

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Two of Great Britain’s finest academic, ceramic art institutions recently closed their venerable, scholarly doors.  Harrow Westminster and Camberwell, both in London, were hallowed ground for Twentieth Century potters and sculptors.  Bernard Leach, Hans Coper, Lucie Rie, Mick Casson and Katherine Pleydell-Bouvierie are only a few of the “sacred ghosts” that must wonder, from their graves, what happened.  The same thing will happen in America if ceramic art educators lose awareness of what made the craft movement possible after the Second World War.  The New Wheel Order is a restoration and expansion of the notion of function in ceramic art.  It involves the consideration of optical warmth as well as optical worth and regards function beyond mere utility.  It asks the question, “When does meaning occur,” that is to say the actual experience of art. Does this experience happen in the museum, gallery or the kitchen?  There is so much careerism masquerading as education that the salient issues of Craft and Creativity are often elided right out of the conversation.  The New Wheel Order is akin to Cezanne’s quest for the truth as he said, “Truth lies not in verisimilitude but in how things are.”  VMFA Resident Potter Steven Glass will discuss these ideas and conduct a power point presentation of contemporary ceramic art.