Museums + Galleries

Think Outside the Pot

These ceramics are way more about form than function.

McKnight Fellows at Northern Clay Center
Clockwise from L: Figure by Nick Renshaw; Knots by Haejung Lee; Setting by Kimberlee Joy Roth; Pretty Little Words by Pattie Chalmers; Untitled by Keisuke Mizuno; Sculpture by Ann-Charlotte Ohlsson

What can you make from clay? Pots, plates, and cups, of course. But that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the creations you’ll find at Northern Clay Center this month. The show Six McKnight Artists promises to expand your idea of what ceramic art can be.

“The artists have in common that their primary material is clay,” says Northern Clay Center director Sarah Millfelt. But that’s about it. There are modern pieces defined by repetition, simplified lines, and bold blocks of color. There are figurative forms with a more narrative bent. And there are artists who elevate the medium—literally—creating wallscapes rather than relying on typical platforms.

The exhibition features six mid-career artists, all recipients of McKnight ceramics awards. Two of them are from Minnesota: Keisuke Mizuno, who makes forms created from common building materials, and Kimberlee Joy Roth, who arranges her feminine functional pieces into rhythmic wall sculptures. The other four artists are from outside the region. They are Pattie Chalmers of Illinois, who makes figures and vignettes inspired by fairy tales, stories, and weird comics from childhood; Haejung Lee of Louisiana, who explores interpersonal relationships through the lens of her immigration from Korea in her 20s; Ann-Charlotte Ohlsson of Denmark, whose nature-inspired forms look like something that might have washed up from sea; and Nick Renshaw of the Netherlands, who creates surprising riffs on the human form.

The fun, says Millfelt, is in seeing art from so many places. Opens July 12.

Northern Clay Center, 2424 Franklin Ave. E., Mpls.,