Here's the thing: Black history should be placed at the center of any and all considerations of U.S. history rather than regarded as a separate category only to be officially honored during the shortest month of the year, but...! We’re also fully here for any opportunity to celebrate the countless ways in which Black and African Americans have built, shaped, and enhanced American life.
Acknowledging the enduring marginalization and systemic violence toward Black Americans is an essential step toward racial justice and social wellness. But just as important, we think, is acknowledging, showcasing, studying, and purchasing work made by Black and African American Artists.
The clay world is largely dominated by white voices like ours, despite the presence of so much inspiring, boundary-pushing work being made by Black artists and other artists of color. Below, a list of Black and African American ceramicists we love, making work that's functional, sculptural, playful, boundary-pushing, useful, redemptive, and more.
Photo from Tactile Matter.
Sculpture by Kahlil Irving
Kahlil Irving is a ceramics-based sculptor working in St. Louis who makes large scale work that aims to "challenge historical notions of colorism, structural barriers that separate communities, and objects that exist in and around the urban environment."
Work from Sam Harvey
ROSA AND WINTON EUGENE
Pottery by Eugene
Collaborators and married couple Rosa and Winton Eugene make functional work in their Cowpens, SC studio that both honors and updates Southern ceramics traditions. The couple has been a mainstay at the Catawba Valley Pottery + Antiques Festival, the first show EF Founder Alex Matisse attended as a young apprentice with potter, Mark Hewitt.
Pottery by Osa.
Come Hither by Kevin Snipes
Theaster Gates and his team in his Chicago studio. Image courtesy of the New York Times.
Theaster Gates is a city planner, performance and installation artist, social mobilizer, urban renewer, and potter. Based in Chicago's South Side, Gates' work shows how art/craft/culture can be activated to bring social change and revitalize disenfranchised communities.