Voices for Change
Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
Enraged by the senseless death of George Floyd, another Black person murdered unjustly at the hands of the police, a call to action has been ignited. This momentum has quickly grown into a global outcry that Black Lives Matter. Concern over the lack of diversity in corporations, institutions and organizations have prompted examination of hiring practices and charges of institutional racism. While people have finally addressed their solidarity with and support of racial equality, they have also watched as many in the corporate and academic world have stayed silent-their inaction speaking volumes.
The Color Network is an organization of artists of color, whose mission is to aid in the advancement of people of color in the ceramic arts through development, networking, and mentorship. While maintaining current resources, including an artist database, they decided to produce a video to address what change looks from the perspective of a BIPOC voice. They wanted to help give actionable steps to institutions that are listening so they can have an idea of where to start.
The video is comprised of eight voices: Natalia Arbelaez (Interdisciplinary artist, researcher, and educator), Paul Briggs (Associate Professor of Art Education at MassArt), Adam Chau (Artist and Museum Manager at Hudson Valley MOCA), Jennifer Ling Datchuk (Assistant Professor of Ceramics at Texas State University), April D. Felipe (Artist and community arts educator), Salvador Jiménez-Flores (Artist and Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Robert Lugo (Artist, social activist, poet and Professor at Temple University), and Yinka Orafidiya (Potter and socially engaged artist).
The work presented in this exhibition speaks of racial identity in both overt and subversive ways; this coding of culture plays to many levels, including a window for the group it represents as well as to those who have no experience in marginalization. Addressing critical societal issues through art making is a challenging task, as the artist must balance aesthetics, formal theory, historic precedent, and an independent voice. Intersectional theory asserts that people are often disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression: their race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and other identity markers. The artists in this exhibition come from various backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities. All artists of color, they are active voices in their communities, eager to share their message. While their plights are different and they have faced their own obstacles while navigating the art field, they believe that when people speak up for each other their collective voices are stronger.
About the Artists
Natalia Arbelaez is a Colombian American artist, born and raised in Miami, Florida to immigrant parents. She received her B.F.A. from Florida International University and her M.F.A. from The Ohio State University, with an Enrichment Fellowship. In 2016-2017 she was a Rittenberg Fellow at Clay Art Center; Port Chester, New York and was awarded the Inaugural Artaxis Fellowship that funded a residency to Watershed in Newcastle, Maine. Her work has been exhibited internationally, in museums, galleries, and included in various collections, such as the Everson Museum and The Frederik Meijer Gardens. She has been recognized by NCECA as a 2018 Emerging Artist and was a 2018-19 resident artist at Harvard University where she researched pre-Columbian art and histories. Natalia was recently an artist in residence at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City where she researched the work of historical and influential women ceramicists of color.
Paul Briggs studied ceramics in high school and continued at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. At Alfred (as an undergraduate and years later as a graduate student) ceramics began to truly provide solace and gave Paul scope to concretely philosophize. He explored the continuum between art and spirituality for many years while continuing his education. Following Alfred, Paul went on to earn the BSEd, in Education/Ceramics at City College New York in 1986. He returned to Alfred University to complete an MSEd, in Education/Ceramics, in 1992, completed the Ph.D. in Art Education/Educational Theory and Policy, at Penn State in 1995, and ultimately the MFA in 2016 from the Massachusetts College of Art. He has taught art education and art over the years at all school levels. He has held the position of Assistant Professor of Art and Art History at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Over the last several years Paul has exhibited in international, regional and juried exhibitions and recently completed the Artist-In Residency program at Harvard Ceramics.
Adam Chau is an artist living in New York. An Industrial Design graduate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2013), his studio practice looks at the combination of digital technology and traditional studio techniques. Publications on his research include Studio Potter, Ceramics Art and Perception, Ceramics Technical, and Ceramics Monthly. In 2018 he was given the NCECA Emerging Artist Award and in 2019 he became a member of the International Academy of Ceramics. He has worked and completed artist residencies across the world including Italy, The Netherlands, and China. Solo exhibitions include Harvard Ceramics, Manchester Craftsman’s Guild, Taoxichuan (China), and The Clay Studio.
Jennifer Ling Datchuk was born in Warren, Ohio and currently lives and works in San Antonio, Texas. As the child of a Chinese immigrant and grandchild of Russian and Irish immigrants, the family histories of conflict she has inherited are a perpetual source for her work. She captures this conflict by exploring the emotive power of domestic objects and rituals that fix, organize, soothe,
and beautify our lives.
Trained in ceramics, her works often use a myriad of materials ranging from porcelain to fabric or embroidery. Datchuk holds an MFA in Artisanry from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
and a BFA in Crafts from Kent State University. She has received grants from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio as well as Artpace to research the birthplace of porcelain in Jingdezhen, China.
In 2016, she was awarded a residency through the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Germany and was a Black Cube Nomadic Museum Artist Fellow. Recently, she completed a residency at the European Ceramic Work Center in the Netherlands and was awarded the Emerging Voices Award from the American Craft Council.
April Felipe was born in Queens, New York. She received her B.F.A from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and her M.F.A in Ceramics from Ohio University. April worked at Greenwich House Pottery, taught at Ohio State University and Ohio University. In 2017 she was named one of Ceramic Monthly’s Emerging Artists and began a ceramic jewelry line baby Grapes Designs that are carried in galleries throughout the United States. She has participated in residencies at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts and The Archie Bray Foundation. She has set down roots in Albany, Ohio with a home studio, she currently works for the Dairy barn Arts Center.
Salvador Jiménez-Flores is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised in Jalisco, México. He explores the politics of identity and the state of double consciousness. Jiménez-Flores addresses issues of colonization, migration, “the other,” and futurism by producing a mixture of socially conscious installation, public, and studio-based art. His work spans from drawing, ceramics, prints, and mixed media sculpture. Jiménez-Flores has presented his work at the National Museum of Mexican Art, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and Museum of Art and Design amongst others. He served as Artist-In-Residence for the city of Boston, Harvard Ceramics Program, Office of the Arts at Harvard University, and Kohler Arts Industry. Jiménez-Flores is a recipient of Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grants and The New England Foundation for the Arts. He is an Assistant Professor in ceramics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Roberto Lugo is an American artist, ceramicist, social activist, poet, and educator. Lugo uses porcelain as his medium of choice, illuminating its aristocratic surface with imagery of poverty, inequality, and social and racial injustice. Lugo’s works are multicultural mash-ups, traditional European and Asian porcelain forms and techniques reimagined with a 21st-century street sensibility. Lugo is the recipient of the 2019 Rome Prize, and was awarded a 2019 Pew Fellowship. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The High Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, The Walters Museum of Art, and more.
Yinka Orafidiya is a socially engaged ceramic artist based in Philadelphia, PA. Her artwork is rooted in the desire to promote awareness of our shared humanity, build community, and effect social change. Supported by a grant from the Leeway Foundation, her first solo show challenged social stigmas about mental illness and fostered solidarity in the community. She has exhibited at The Clay Gallery in Michigan, The Greene County Council on the Arts Gallery in New York, The Manchester Craftmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh, the Woodmere Art Museum, and various other locations throughout the Philadelphia area. Yinka recently completed an advanced apprenticeship with a master potter in Ghana, West Africa and has participated in residencies at the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works (Doylestown, PA), the International Ceramics Studio (Kecskemet, Hungary), and Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts (Newcastle, ME). She is the recipient of two grants from the Leeway Foundation, a Multicultural Fellowship from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, and an Independence Foundation Fellowships in the Arts award. Yinka currently sustains her studio practice at The Allens Lane Art Center where she also teaches and works as the assistant studio technician.