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Artistic Imaginings in Clay

October 10, 2001 – January 15, 2002

“Artistic Imaginings in Clay” is a juried exhibition of contemporary, handmade tiles and architectural ceramics from the United States. The exhibit brings to Washington a broad scope of works by contemporary artists which present recent developments to the ancient craft of tile making. Tiles are no longer simply a sanitary surface of practical function. An array of contemporary artists paint, glaze, and sculpt their tiles, further blurring the traditional lines between “decorative arts” and “high art.” Some are even beginning to incorporate unconventional materials such as glass and metal in order to intensify their works’ visual impact. The current revival continues to push the medium in a steadily progressive fashion, incorporating decorative motifs of geometric and floral patterns.

The last decade has seen a widespread rebirth of the ceramic arts. Currently in the United States, tile makers are producing an unprecedented array of wares. A rapidly growing interest in the handmade arts resulted in countless gallery exhibits, museum shows, and books.

Bonnie Fry, organizer of last year’s tile exhibition at the Greater Reston Arts Center in Virginia, remarks on contemporary tilemakers’ capabilities of producing work that functions in both a practical and an artistic fashion. “The pieces… could stand on their own and be hung on the wall, but they could also fit traditional architectural niches in the kitchens, bathrooms, halls, and gardens.”

The jurors for this exhibition are Bonnie Lilienfeld (museum specialist, Ceramics and Glass Collection, National Museum of American History), Robert Devers (professor of ceramics, Corcoran Gallery of Art and Design and American University) and Ana Maria Escallon (director, Art Museum of the Americas). For “Artistic Imaginings in Clay,” two major prizes are being awarded to artists fro exceptional execution of technique and for inventiveness.

Rosalind Meieran of Phoenix, Arizona will receive the Juror’s Prize for her piece, “A Bright Day in the Old City.” Bonnie Lilienfeld explains the “its evocative colors and detail – its movement and its lyricism – draw the viewer into the hustle and bustle of modern day life in a tradition, historic city; a perfect icon for the medley of old and new traditions in the show.”

The Tile Heritage Prize is being awarded to Eric Rattan of Madison, Wisconsin for his work, “Autumn Color.” Ms. Lilienfeld writes that “this wonderful tile carpet, composed of 1000 handmade stoneware tiles with five color grouting, carries on the tradition of the Malibu Tile carpets and incorporates the flora of the American landscape.”