On the occasion of the 12th Annual Mint Museum Potters Market Invitational presented by the Delhom Service League, the museum invited North Carolina potter David Stuempfle (b.1960) to create an installation in the Mint’s gallery devoted to North Carolina pottery. The museum tasked Stuempfle to use objects by artists whose work is featured in Potters Market Invitational 2016 and represented in the Mint’s permanent collection. Stuempfle decided to present these pots in a global context to emphasize that North Carolina’s potters draw from other pottery traditions across time and space. He began by searching the museum’s database and storage rooms to find other North Carolina ceramics as well as clay work from around the globe that appealed to him on an aesthetic level. The artist ended up with a striking selection of objects from our state paired with ceramics from ancient America, Asia, and Africa. Stuempfle stated: “There’s a universal quality to great pots and I wanted to show the similarity. Instead of segregating these pots based on cultural geographies, we chose to bring these pots together to show that universality.” Some of the pots were chosen because they are related to North Carolina ceramics, others because they were the best representation of the Mint’s collection, and still others for certain specific details, such as a beautiful Tenmoku glaze (an iron-rich black glaze with rust highlights) or the markings from a firing process. “I see things from the potter’s perspective—as someone involved in materials and the making process.”
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, The Potter's Eye: Art and Tradition in North Carolina Pottery delves into classic North Carolina stoneware pots-. With their rich textures, monochromatic glazes, and minimal decoration-, they belong to one of America's most revered stoneware pottery traditions. In a lavishly illustrated celebration of that tradition, Mark Hewitt and Nancy Sweezy trace the history of North Carolina pottery from the nineteenth century to the present day. They demonstrate the intriguing historic and aesthetic relationships that link pots produced in North Carolina to pottery traditions in Europe and Asia, in New England, and in the neighboring state of South Carolina.
With hundreds of color photographs highlighting the shapes and surfaces of carefully selected pots, The Potter's Eye honors the keen focus vernacular potters bring to their materials, tools, techniques, and history. It is an evocative guide for anyone interested in the art of North Carolina pottery and the aesthetic majesty of this resilient and long-standing tradition.