Photo: Installation view of Persistence in Clay: Contemporary Ceramics in Montana, photo courtesy of MAM.

Persistence In Clay: Contemporary Ceramics In Montana

June 3 2011 - September 10 2011

While many regions of the country are known for their mastery of other mediums, in Montana, the ceramic arts are the touchstone of art and culture. This exhibition serves as a snapshot of the world-class activity that is happening today in the state. The exhibition coincides with the Archie Bray Foundation's 60th birthday and is intended to celebrate not only this milestone birthday but the long-lived strength of the clay medium in the state of Montana. The professional artists in this exhibit are a selection of the many clay artists who are currently recognized leaders in their communities.

Since the 1940s the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts has had a tremendous impact on the region. The first two residents were Rudy Autio and Peter Voulkos, who in turn had a profound influence on the American Crafts-as-Art movement, and subsequent attitudes about American ceramics. "Rudy" and "Pete," as they are known regionally, left a rich and growing legacy in the ceramic arts.

The legacy has been passed on and is demonstrated by the nineteen dedicated ceramic artists participating in this traveling exhibition. The featured artists include Dean Adams, Adrian Arleo, Steve Braun, Josh DeWeese, Hannah Fisher, Shanna Fliegel, Julia Galloway, Robert Harrison, Trey Hill, David Hiltner, Steve Lee, Beth Lo, Richard Notkin, David Regan, Alison Reintjes, David Smith, Sarah Jaeger, Tara Wilson, and Rosie Wynkoop. Although these artists reflect a variety of styles and approaches, they have all invested in this place, demonstrated an intense professional focus in the clay medium, and are practicing within their communities to help perpetuate the legacy of clay in Montana.

Though working in Montana, many of these artists rarely exhibit within the state relying instead on commercial support and attention from galleries and collectors outside the region. Drawing these artists together celebrates the local connection to the communities they call home and provides an educational platform to affirm their creative contributions. It should be noted that this select group of artists is not exclusive, for this exhibition could easily be tripled in size with ceramic artists who are equally vital and competent. This profound fact speaks to the strength of the clay medium in the state and the legacy of the pioneers who laid the groundwork for the generations of clay artists to come.

Thanks to the support of the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), MAM will tour this exhibition regionally to the Nicolaysen Art Museum, Casper, Wyoming, and the Crossroads Carnegie Art Center, Baker, Oregon. The exhibition is funded through the support of the National Endowment for the Arts, WESTAF, and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.