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Ceramic Change: How to Make It

Ceramic Change: How to Make It

Sat January 20, 2018 10:00AM - 5:00PM

Online ticket sales are now closed. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.
$25 General / $22 Students and Gardiner Friends

What does sustainability and community look like in the ceramics studio? In conjunction with the exhibition Steven Heinemann: Culture & Nature, this one-day workshop intensive for emerging artists in the expanding field of ceramics will focus on the nuts and bolts of professional survival and enabling skilled connections. From building your own DIY wood burning kiln to local clay harvesting, these presentations, workshops, and conversations will dig deep into what it means to pursue a sustainable maker practice in Toronto today.


10 – 11 am | Check-in, free access to Steven Heinemann: Culture & Nature
11 am – 12 pm | Presentation | Make it happen: Succeeding Through Opportunity and Community
12 – 1 pm | Presentation | Two Potters, One Kiln
1 – 2 pm | Lunch (not provided)
2 – 4 pm | Conversation | Show & Tell | FREE
2 – 3 pm | Workshop | Mindfulness with Clay: Firing Contemplative Practices with Social Justice
3 – 4 pm | Workshop | From the Land: Creating Deeper Relationships with Place Through Local Clay Harvesting
4 – 5 pm | Networking and mingling in the Gardiner’s lobby

Make it Happen: Succeeding Through Opportunity and Community
11 am – 12 pm

What’s next? The future is uncertain, particularly when leaving school, and that’s okay. There are opportunities and communities that want you (yes, you!). These are the keys to your future success, however you choose to define it.

Craft Ontario will walk you through applying to creative and professional opportunities that are customized to the careers of makers. We’ll discuss applying for awards, exhibitions, and more. Our community of craftspeople, makers, and designers want you to be a part of a province-wide family.

Two Potters, One Kiln
12 – 1 pm 

This summer, Hamilton potters Duncan Aird and Emma Smith teamed up to successfully raise $24,000 through a Kickstarter campaign. The campaign helped fund the building of their new wood burning kiln, a tool that they each could not have built on their own. Their joint efforts have created a space for the growth of their work, and a facility for the education of wood-fired ceramics in Southern Ontario.

Duncan Aird majored in Ceramics at Sheridan College, followed by a six-year apprenticeship with potter Scott Barnim. This profound grounding in thrown and highly-decorated ceramics allowed him to confidently open his own studio. Along with his studio practice, Duncan is currently part of the faculty at Haliburton School of the Arts and Mohawk College, where he is the studio technician.

Emma Smith studied Ceramics at Sheridan College and Haliburton School of the Arts before working as an apprentice for Gleasonbrook Pottery in 2013. Since then, she and her partner have opened a local art and fine craft boutique “Black & Smith Country General” at her home studio in rural Hamilton. She is an instructor at Mohawk College, and teaches surface decoration workshops across the province.

Show & Tell | FREE
2 – 4 pm 

Akin Projects hosts a special edition of their monthly ‘Show and Tell’ for artists at The Gardiner Museum led by artist Erin Candela. Informative, supportive and fun—this is a time for artists to show completed works or works in progress and get friendly feedback and answers from their peers in a casual (this time a museum!) setting. Feel free to bring art to share, bring a friend or two or just bring yourself. Come for the conversation about art, or just to meet other artists and makers.

Mindfulness with Clay: Firing Contemplative Practices with Social Justice
2 – 3 pm 

What does it mean to work with clay as both a therapeutic and anti-oppressive form? This conversation will explore how contemplative practices—specifically the delivery of clay-making and mindfulness skills building workshops—can facilitate community-based art projects. This discussion will touch on the ways in which the therapeutic effects of clay can be approached from a critical and compassionate social justice perspective.

A registered art therapist for over 25 years, Suzanne Thomson integrates mindfulness and sensorimotor psychotherapy to facilitate healing and community engagement. Her work as an artist and rinzai zen practitioner shapes how she works with clay to transform habits of thinking, feeling, and behaving. Suzanne teaches art therapy and co-creates community-based arts projects.

Zahra Komeylian is a ceramics artist, educator, and social justice advocate. She holds a Master’s of Psychology in Education from Columbia University and has written and presented on the intersection of contemplative claywork and anti-oppressive practice. She is the founder of Project ArtPowerment, a grassroots arts initiative supporting racialized youth in North Etobicoke. She is currently a program manager at Art Starts Neighbourhood Cultural Centre.

Rea McNamara is an artist, writer, curator, and public programmer. Her writing has been published in the Globe and Mail, Canadian Art, VICE, NOW Magazine, BLOUIN ARTINFO, and more. She has mounted public projects for local organizations like Art Starts and The Drake Hotel, and founded the limited-run event series Sheroes. Her work has been displayed at The Whitney Museum of American Art, the AGO, Nuit Blanche Toronto, and Moogfest. McNamara oversees public programming at the Gardiner Museum.

From the Land: Creating Deeper Relationships with Place Through Local Clay Harvesting
3 – 4 pm 

This workshop will guide participants through methods of local clay processing while discussing Indigenous histories of Toronto. By looking to traditional practices of honourable clay harvests, we will aim to extend conversations of land acknowledgement to sustainable land engagement. This workshop will give participants one potential avenue to deepen understandings of Indigenous histories of the land, place-based education, and sustainable art making practices.

Kelly King is a recent graduate from the Masters of Environmental Studies program at York University. Her major research focused on settler responsibilities to treaties and education through community arts practices. Kelly worked at the Gardiner this past summer with the Community Arts Space program. She is interested in furthering her work to examine the intersections of art, social justice organizing, and Indigenous rights.

Mikiki is a queer video and performance artist from Newfoundland. They attended NSCAD and Concordia before returning to St. John’s to work as Programming Coordinator at Eastern Edge Gallery. Mikiki has worked as Gay Men’s Sexual Health Outreach Worker in Ottawa, HIV Educator in Montreal, the Poz Prevention Coordinator at Toronto People With AIDS Foundation, and now runs a harm reduction street outreach program and provides HIV testing for a community health centre. Mikiki—who identifies as a mixed White/Indigenous person of Mi’kmaq, Acadian, and Irish heritage—addressed issues of identity and colonization through original choreography performed on a foundation of wet clay in NU_FORuMS, their performance-based project for the Gardiner’s Community Arts Space program.

Presenting Partners

Akin Projects is an arts programming organization and registered nonprofit established for the purpose of providing both creative and professional development opportunities to members of Toronto’s artistic and cultural community. They have offered services to almost 5,000 individuals since our inception in 2015, including workshops, monthly art critiques, gallery tours, and open studio events.

Craft Ontario

Craft Ontario is a not-for-profit service organization that works to have craft recognized as a valuable part of life. We promote and celebrate professional craft through providing member opportunities, and advocate for craft practice by educating and empowering diverse audiences.

Sheridan Ceramics offers hands-on learning in one of Canada’s leading Ceramics studios.  As part of the Sheridan Craft and Design program, Ceramics is one area of emphasis within an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Craft and Design degree program.  Faculty are experts in the field and work collaboratively to help students explore a full range of processes and techniques with an awareness of contemporary ideas and community. The focus is on innovative approaches to clay in classes that are designed to stretch the student’s skills, and explore the material and processes.