Figurative ceramic art pieces in the Sculpture National 2021 exhibit at the Clay Center of New Orleans

Photos and reporting by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL, 62035, USA.  If you enjoyed this post, then like the post, and also like my Facebook page.    Check out Beachfront Pottery posts on Instagram @beachfrontpottery.    There is additional information about Beachfront Pottery on my web site.

The Venue


The Sculpture National 2021 exhibit took place from April 9- May 22, 2021 in the gallery of the Clay Center of New Orleans in New Orleans, LA. This is the side view of the building.





This is the exhibit space with the curated exhibit.








The Call for Entry

The call for entry read: The Clay Center of New Orleans seeks applicants for its annual “Sculpture National” exhibition, a juried group show that explores and celebrates clay as a sculptural fine art medium.   Open to sculptures and sculptural wall-mounted works or installations that are at least 50% ceramic materials

The Ceramic Art Pieces

In this post I’ll report on the figurative ceramic pieces.

“Punto (Point)” by Juan Granados

This was a wall piece with blue photograph transfer. From another exhibit in the Averitt Center here is a  brief statement of Juan: “I create art in order to share memories both past and present; visions of places I’ve been; concerns about the environment; and observations of the human condition as well. To do this, I use many different elements from my life and experiences. Subject matter may be difficult to separate and identify, but I try to create work that embodies an intuitive gestalt or the flow and response around an idea.   My reasons for using clay are simple and basic. Clay allows me the total freedom to create work that shares its connections to my background and my experiences of working with the land. I believe that our past, present, and future conditions and our environment exert considerable influence on our sense of being.  In turn, our experiences also affect who we are. My language echoes the origins of the earth.  I have worked the land in various parts of the country and have harvested many types of crops and produce. All of this is part of me, and I have enjoyed celebrating these experiences of cultivation. Now I enjoy cultivating clay as a means of expressing ideas connected with human sustainability.” ​The work in the show includes what Juan describes as a “pump-like form” merged with “organic subject matter such as seeds, roots, leaves, and general vegetation forms,” and forms that are more like platters or picture frames. Almost all of the work uses photo transfers to add another layer of information on top of the strong textures he uses. Most of the imagery used references working the land, family and memory.


“The Kiss, A Koi Sculpture” by Nancy Richards


I couldn’t find an artist statement from her. For more of her works visit her web site.








“Dissolute Vessel” by Troy Aiken

I found an artist statement from a 2021 interview: “My work seeks to investigate my research interests within the history of mass production and mold making within ceramics. It is my attempt to break traditional means of constructing, which allows me to satisfy my curiosities with conflating the meaning, function, and decorative nature of these individual ceramic objects born from molds. Reproducing these objects from a range of histories in a contemporary setting allows them to metaphorically live “in the now” thereby becoming current. The clay articles taken from these molds come together as a single form, which exist on a plane where nonsense and meaningfulness come together. I choose to reflect on the work in terms of artifacts and or remnants of contemporary cultures left behind as they turn into amorphous objects existing through time, only to be unearthed in a possible dystopian future. These vessel-like structures become either more enhanced or dilapidated through simulation with multiple glaze applications as surfaces begin to either lose or gain surface information and represent ideas of burial, excavation, decay and chemical processes that occur in a landfill. These assemblage mementos are constructed and arranged repeatedly, enabling my own playfulness and personality to become instilled within the work making it my own, even though sometimes my physical hand is not present. The use of stoneware and porcelain clay acknowledges the material convention in which many of these factory-produced objects were composed of most notably throughout Europe. Working with factory-made objects enables the work to reflect a plethora of content comprised of intricate compositions and a unification of disparate entities. This way of building collectively allows me to continue to contribute and push the boundaries of the contemporary ceramic visual language that the work embodies.. For more of his works visit his web site.


“Unrepeatable (irrepetible)” by Amanda Barr



I couldn’t find an artist statement from her. For her other works visit her web site.








“Our Lady of Czestochowa Pray for Us” by Lisa G Westheimer


Here is a part of her statement: “Aesthetically my work is spiritually based and socially conscious. My art making tries to bridge the divide between ancient sacred devout and faithful worship with contemporary fleeting secular materialistic sensibility. Bringing the viewer to sensitive subjects with grace or humor, reaching out to the disenfranchised or socially unconscious with simple gestures and bringing calm and peace to those in turmoil are prime motivators and fuel for ignition of the creative spark. Decoratively I enjoy working in the abstract where each embellishment and gesture provides clues for the viewer to string into their own personal narrative. What each piece says to each viewer is unique and that is just fine with me.”  For more of her works visit her web site.



“Coppice Cranium” by Joe Kowalczyk


His statement reads: “Joseph’s sculpture often explores representations of protection, strength, integrity, and honor, as it questions the legitimacy of such virtues. His figures possess dualities that spring from the darker side of the subconscious, often referred to as the “human shadow.” This is a way to identify and highlight specific aspects of the human shadow, as it puts them into the physical world; to give them a face and a set of eyes, so we can confront them and hopefully understand them better.” For more of his works visit his web site.




“Fan” by Rebecca Harvey




Part of her statement from Artaxis reads: “I take the objects that I have altered and cover them in skins: encasing them in clay or slathering them in slip, pasting them in paper or coloring them with pigments. Sometimes they have multiple skins ,they are fired and refired in the kiln. Sometimes the alteration lies lightly on the surface, at other times I cannot remember what the container now contains.”  For more of her work visit her web site.



“Music Made for Video #2” Richard W James


His statement reads: “I utilize the traditional doll format of ceramic head, hands, and feet with a cloth body to create large-scale ceramic sculptures that employ found objects within the narrative. The mending of clothes and the construction of dwellings are two crafts handed down to me through my parents’ and grandparents’ way of life. Growing up in a very poor, rural environment, these crafts were required skills for the survival of my family and are integral to my identity. These hard and soft materials/methods have come to represent the traditionally feminine and masculine facets of my upbringing. The clay in my sculptures (a combination of both) has come to symbolize myself within this trifecta.” For more of his works visit his web site.




“This is That” by Russell Orlando




His statement from Artaxis reads: “In my ceramic creations, I study subtle qualities in the material that have transpired during the making process. Shape, form and line embody my thinking as I work through the piece. Arrangement also becomes an important factor as I consider the final presentation. ”  For more of his work visit his web site.









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