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June Issue 2010

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, NC, Features Pottery by Ben Owen III

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' Nature Art Gallery is proud to offer an exhibit and sale of work by Ben Owen III, one of the world's most celebrated potters. Earth, Water & Fire: Works in Clay by Ben Owen III will open on June 4 and continue through Aug. 1, 2010. This exhibit offers a great opportunity to purchase a thing of beauty and lasting value made by the hands of a preeminent North Carolina artisan, made from North Carolina clay and fired in the North Carolina pottery tradition.

As a third generation potter from Seagrove, NC, Owen's roots run deep. Since the age of 13, he has been selling pots from "Old Plank Road Pottery" where his father and grandfather established the family business. Throughout high school he produced works using the traditions and glazes of his grandfather, who was influenced by the Asian pottery traditions he admired in museum collections. In the early 1990s he pursued a formal education in ceramics at the School of Art, East Carolina University, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Like his grandfather, Owen's work displays both traditional and Asian influences. His aesthetic continually evolved as he attended workshops and conferences through the US and across the globe, including a workshop in Japan in 1995. He also traveled to China, Europe, Australia and New Zealand synthesizing elements of each culture. Owen says each pot is a model for the next as he describes the continual evolution of his work. Yet each creation exhibits an abiding respect for the traditions of his forefathers that shaped him as a young potter.

Though most North Carolinians are familiar with Ben Owen, few are aware that his reputation has spread so far beyond the state and country. His work has been commissioned for Ronald Reagan, Elizabeth Taylor, Perry Como, Bob Hope, Tom Selleck and Arnold Palmer. Most recently, the University of North Carolina commissioned him to create a piece for musician James Taylor as a lifetime achievement award.

Owen has exhibited his work continually since 1993 in both group and solo shows in North Carolina at the Mint Museum, Charlotte;  Blue Spiral Gallery, Asheville; Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington; North Carolina Art and History Museums, Raleigh; Gallery of Art and Design, NCSU, Raleigh; and Art Museums in Hickory, Greenville and Fayetteville and of course, the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove. Venues outside our state include the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk; Alfred University, New York; the Berman Gallery, Atlanta; and in Tokoname, Japan.

Owen's work has been collected by several museums including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Dallas Museum of Art. Other public collections include the North Carolina Governor's Mansion, Raleigh; the Umstead Hotel, Cary, NC; plus Ritz-Carlton Hotels of Boston, Tokyo and White Plains, NY; Boston Commons and the Federal Reserve, Charlotte. He has received numerous awards including North Carolina Living Treasure in 2004 and has been featured on Good Morning America, PBS, Japan-TV, Korean-TV and several TV shows in China.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum Store at 919/733-7450, ext. 369 or visit (www.naturalsciences.org/museum-store/nature-art-gallery).

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