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Kevin Wallace - Clay Submissions Juror

Kevin Wallace is the Director and Curator of the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts in Ojai, California. Kevin has been involved with ceramic art since the early 90s, when he held the position of Manager and Creative Director at Los Angeles' del Mano Gallery, a leading gallery in the field of contemporary craft art. Over the course of his career, Kevin has guest-curated numerous exhibitions for a number of museums and art centers including: the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Long Beach Museum of Art, and the Craft and Folk Art Museum of Los Angeles. Kevin is the author and co-author of several books and catalogues on contemporary art and craft, and is a regular contributor to numerous periodicals including Craft Arts International.

In viewing the works submitted for the exhibition I was impressed with the diversity of works submitted. There were wide-ranging influences at play - from Asian teabowls and Baroque vessels to conceptually driven and installation-sized works – as well as myriad technical approaches. Before beginning the decision-making process of jurying, an initial look at the works made it clear the exhibition would have to be expansive and inclusive. I considered that some wouldn't be able to pinpoint my aesthetic preferences as a curator and see a lack of cohesion, yet it was obvious that I couldn't be narrow or limited in my selections. The body of work I was presented with demanded that I be as open as possible to everything, from the smallest and most subtle, to the oddest and most aesthetically challenging.

Today, contemporary artists working in traditional craft media such as clay are often pushed in two directions. They are driven to improve their technical knowledge and skills, building upon everything that has come before, yet they are challenged to create work that is truly original. Technique is of course important, as it serves to further the artist's vision. Originality is born of the inward glance, and a trust in what it provides. Each of us has a unique set of experiences, influences and desires, and the highly original is simply an honest exploration of our individuality In viewing these works, I was not looking to be dazzled by technique or overwhelmed by originality. I only asked that the work truly express and share the individuality of the artist. The artists presented in this exhibition offered this and much more… from their experience of the world they have created works that assist us in seeing ourselves.

Allegra Pesenti - Ink Submissions Juror

Allegra Pesenti is a curator at the Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, California. She holds a PhD from The Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Allegra has been involved in organizing and curating numerous print and drawing exhibitions at a number of institutions including: the Metropolitian Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where she formerly served as Assistant Curator of Drawings. Her recent exhibitions at the Hammer include: Gouge: The Modern Woodcut 1870 to Now in 2008, and Rachel Whiteread Drawings in 2010.

The invitation to jury the Ink and Clay competition was a wonderful opportunity for me to step outside the museum context and examine a great range of works on paper. This rare occasion allowed me to view a spectrum of drawings and prints by artists of all ages from anywhere in the Western States, of different degrees of expertise, and with diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. The task seemed daunting at first as hundreds of images were presented to me upon arrival at the W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery, but I was soon carried away by the process as it evoked the enthusiasm and serious efforts of the contestants.

In making the selections, I looked for skilled draftsmanship, and I assessed original and thought-provoking content, but I also considered how the submitted work would function within the gallery space. My hope was that the objects would ultimately commune with each other as a coherent installation. Among the selections however, there were works that stood out as remarkable independent contributions. Ann Binghamfreeman's Man Leaning Back is a striking male nude, briskly drawn in black ink. Drawing from the model is among the most traditional forms of academic exercise, yet this award winner demonstrates how the practice can continuously be reinvented and used as a basis for manipulating form. In No One is the Homeland, Dirk Hagner sends a subtle yet poignant message through his use of the letterpress with relief etching, applying words to both sides of the sheets so that some peer through like shadows. Noriho Uriu manipulates the page with an intricate combination of collage, incision and intaglio-printed structures in Conceptual Mapping 0. Here, architectural and celestial planes blend. Sheila Pitt's spectral figure commands the entire surface of the sheet in Tortured New Life. Bold contrasts and a dizzying array of lines mark this arresting print. Ink and clay, the mediums that distinguish this competition, are both applied in Presley Martin's Influence. To see an artist challenge the boundaries of works on paper this way gives resonance both to the juror's role, and to the mission of the competition itself.