Art — Ceramic Biennial

Ceramics take the spotlight at NHIA’s new show


By Michelle Saturley []


It’s been a big year for ceramic arts in Manchester. First, the Currier Museum of Art showcased some of New England’s best-known ceramic artists with its exhibit, “Creations in Clay: Contemporary New England Ceramics.” Now, the New Hampshire Institute of Art is hosting its first-ever Ceramic Biennial. This juried competition brings together some of the best emerging clay artists in the country.

“We’ve been doing a Biennial show for a while now that features many other mediums, such as paint, photography, and mixed media, but we’ve never included functional ceramics in that show,” said Stephanie Bergeron, development assistant at NHIA. “At the end of the last school year, one of our faculty members came up with the idea of hosting a ceramics biennial in the off-year of our regular biennial. The idea caused such a buzz on campus that we just had to do it.”

The exhibition showcases work by artists from 24 states and Canada, including New Hampshire artists Chris Archer, John Baymore, Al Jaeger and Maureen Mills. A wide variety of techniques and media, including sculptural, functional, non-functional, three-dimensional and two-dimensional work, are featured. An awards ceremony and opening reception for the artists is scheduled for Friday, October 22 at 5 p.m. The works will be on display at both the Main Gallery on Concord Street and the Citizens Bank Community Gallery at Fuller Hall, located on Hanover Street. Many of the featured artists are traveling from as far away as the West Coast and Canada to take part in the awards ceremony.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the response we received from applicants for the competition,” Bergeron said. “We send out mailings and placed ads in ceramics magazines, but we weren’t prepared for how many artists would be interested in us. The caliber of work that has been submitted has been amazing. It was enough to fill both our main gallery and the one at Fuller Hall.”

Internationally known ceramic artist Chris Gustin will jury this exhibition for the NHIA. Gustin owns and operates a studio in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts (considered a haven for ceramic artists), and most recently retired from teaching at UMass Dartmouth.  He continues to show his sculptural vessels and conduct woodfire ceramics workshops around the country. In coordination with the NHIA’s Ceramics Biennial, Gustin will lead a day-long workshop at the Institute on Saturday, October 23.

Ceramics Biennial 2004 runs through December 5. Gallery hours at the Institute are Friday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 - 5 p.m.  Admission to the gallery and the opening reception are free of charge and open to the public. The workshop with Chris Gustin has a $50 fee. For more information, call 623-0313 or visit

—Michelle Saturley

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