Feature Articles

May 2013

NC Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, NC, Offers Works by Thrown Together Potters Exhibit

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Nature Art Gallery in Raleigh, NC, is celebrating spring with flowers “on” pots rather than in them. North Carolina rightly boasts a wealth of arts communities across the state, rich with pottery work that traces its roots back to the pre-colonial days of this delicate craft. The Museum will play host to a group of six North Carolina potters, who call themselves Thrown Together. They will exhibit and sell their wares in the Gallery from May 3 through June 2, 2013. A reception will be held on May 3, from 6:30-9pm.

Thrown Together consists of Jennifer Mecca, Julie Wiggins, Allison McGowan Hermans, Ron Philbeck, Amy Sanders and Michael Hamlin-Smith.
All of the pieces in this exhibit will have a floral motif, however, six very distinctive styles will be represented. All six potters are studio potters and have worked together before in various combinations. All of them sell their work continually all over the country and several of them have been represented in Lark Books’ “500 Bowls.” This will be a rich, exciting show that should appeal to pottery collectors. Each of them produces work strong enough for a solo show, so having all six in one show will be very exciting!

Jennifer Mecca calls herself a utilitarian potter creating unique visually pleasing pots that are useful in everyday life. She earned a BFA and MFA in ceramics from East Carolina University. Through an exchange program at ECU she also had the opportunity to study in Finland, Russia, and Estonia. She was previously a studio assistant for Silvie Granatelli at the Penland School of Crafts in Penland, NC. Mecca is a full time studio potter in Gastonia who also teaches classes for all ages, from children to college level. It was her idea to form this group for everyone’s benefit. All artisans are self-employed.

Julie Wiggins is originally from Jacksonville, NC, and graduated from the ceramics program at ECU. She received an honorary degree from Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute in China and continued her studies in Mexico, Morocco and Europe and now works from her studio in Charlotte. She has taught for the last ten years including courses at Clayworks and the McColl Center for Visual Art, both in Charlotte, NC. Her work has been featured at the American Craft Council and the Mint Museum of Craft + Design.

Allison McGowan Hermans received her MFA in ceramics from Alfred University (Alfred, NY). She was a resident artist at the Philadelphia Clay Studio, a Sage Scholar at the Archie Bray Foundation (Helena, MT) and professor of ceramics at Rowan University (Glassboro, NJ) and Immaculata University (Immaculata, PA). She has taught at Penland School of Crafts and presented lectures and workshops both nationally and internationally. Hermans’ studio is in Concord, NC, where she is also an occupational therapy assistant and mother to two children.

Ron Philbeck studied math and horticulture at North Carolina State University and then began making pots in his hometown in Shelby, NC, in 1992. He became a studio potter in 1996, making salt glazed earthenware pots. In 2008, he switched to stoneware and began decorating his work.

Amy Sanders has a BA in art and secondary education form Centre College (Danville, KY) where she also worked as an assistant in the clay and drawing studios and served on a professional glass blowing crew. She was interim manager at Clayworks and now teaches hand building classes. She also conducts workshops regularly across the United States. Sanders is a member of the Piedmont Craftsmen and completed a large scale public art piece for the city of Charlotte. She was also an Affiliate Artist at the McColl Center for Visual Art. She creates earthenware vessels that balance form, texture and pattern with utility in her Charlotte studio. She is also a new mother.

Michael Hamlin-Smith became interested in pottery as an elementary school student. He later spent a year in Paraguay where he was exposed to local handmade crafts as an exchange student in 1983. In 1987, he bought his first kiln and began making, glazing and firing his own work. In 1996, he earned a BFA from the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, OH, and completed an eight-week intensive concentration course at the Penland School. Hamlin-Smith has a great passion for gardening and flower arranging and primarily creates vases for displaying flowers. His aesthetic influences are mid-century modern Scandinavian design, 12th -15th century Persian ceramics, Sung Dynasty vessels and Japanese Ikebana arrangements.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and its new wing, the Nature Research Center in downtown Raleigh, documents and interprets the natural history of the state of North Carolina through exhibits, research, collections, publications and educational programming. The Museum is an agency of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, John Skvarla., Secretary. The Nature Art Gallery is located on the top floor of the Museum Store, Main building. All exhibited art is for sale.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the gallery at 919/707-9854 or visit (www.naturalsciences.org).

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