Southern Women Potters” to Exhibit at Hamilton Williams Gallery

Hamilton Williams Gallery in downtown Morganton will hold an opening reception for the exhibit “Southern Women Potters: Contemporary Pottery in the Southern Tradition,” Friday from 6-8 p.m. The exhibit will run through Oct. 3 and it features the work of seven women artists who carry on the tradition of artisan pottery in the Southeast with diverse approaches and styles. Artists included in the exhibit are Susan Barrett, Robin Beckett, Adrienne Dellinger, Sue Grier, Jennifer Mecca, Sarah Wells Rolland and Amelia Stamps.

According to gallery owner Hamilton Williams inspiration for Southern Women Potters was drawn from the Craft Revival movement that occurred around the turn of the 20th Century. At that time, in the face of expanding industrialization, the people of the southern Appalachians had few opportunities for economic improvement. Even fewer opportunities were available to women, who were often tied into traditional roles of caring for family and household. In response, a revived interest in traditional craft emerged in the region. Mothers and wives began to relearn traditional making with an emphasis on quality, design, and individuality. The sale of their craftwork helped to reshape the economy and culture of the southern Appalachians and to improve the economic status of women and families. Each of the artists included in the exhibition maintain the tradition of design, individuality and creativity.

Susan Barrett, of Hendersonville, is inspired by the pottery of the indigenous people of the Americas. She adapts ancient techniques and uses others directly to create simple round forms with lustrous burnished surfaces of natural clays, resists and random smoke markings. Many of her pieces evoke images of an evolving planet, with each vessel developing its individual character through the unpredictable variables that go into its making.

Robin Beckett, of Winston-Salem, draws influence for her work from the wooded mountains of North Carolina. Her collection of “woodsy pots” is particularly inspired by the large trees of Joyce Kilmer National Forest, one of the few virgin forests left in the United States.

Beckett said, “Each tree takes on its own creative stance, giving me the possibility to play with the creative function.”

Adrienne Dellinger is a utilitarian potter and the Executive Director for ClayWorks in Charlotte. Growing up with both Catawba Valley and Seagrove pottery in her home created a foundation for traditional and utilitarian pottery influences while her education at East Carolina University provided a strong Japanese aesthetic.

Sue Grier creates one-of-a-kind pieces, teapots, and limited-series pottery from her studio in Leicester, just outside of Asheville. Originally from New Mexico, Grier worked as a production potter in South Carolina and taught ceramics at Clemson University before moving to her current mountain home. Her work has grown to embrace the vessel through her previous involvement and understanding of more traditional functional pottery forms. Recurring ideas in her work involve the passage of time revealed through the wonders of landscape.

Jennifer Mecca works from her home studio in Gastonia, and enjoys creating each piece of her pottery with its own unique character and personality. Jennifer makes elaborate surfaces and forms, starting with wheel-thrown pieces that are altered and embellished with handmade stamps, colored clay sprigs and, most recently, incised drawings with black slip. Her forms are usually organic in nature, which stems from her love of the material she uses and her personal preference for a fluid line.

Sarah Wells Rolland was born and raised in central Florida, but has made her home in Asheville for the last 30 years. She became captivated by pottery-making as a young wife and mother 25 years ago and has grown and developed as an artist ever since.

“I am drawn to forms that are simple, graceful and fluid,” said Rolland, “You can see when looking at my work that the motion of the wheel and the hand of the potter are not lost in the finished piece.” She is a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild and owner of The Village Potters, a cooperative gallery in the River Arts District of Asheville.

Amelia Stamps of Lexington, Ky., draws her inspiration from a variety of cultures and pottery traditions around the world, but cites Chinese Song Dynasty pottery as a strong influence for her choices of form and color.

“Within my work I strive to make well-crafted pottery that records the alteration of material and process. I use volumetric forms that suggest sensuality in the curves and bends of the clay," said the artist. Stamps has received numerous awards and grants for her work, including a recent “Award of Excellence” from Ohio Designer Craftsmen.

Hamilton Williams Gallery is a gallery of fine craft featuring the work of artisans from western North Carolina and the Appalachian region. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

To view the exhibit online visit, www.hamiltonwilliams.com/exhibitions.

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