John Woodward, American, b. 1950. Garage, 1995–1996. Painted ceramic. 28 x 19 x 20 inches. Gift of Mary Mallery Davis, by exchange, 2016.14

Breaking with Tradition: Contemporary Ceramics

April 21, 2018 - January 27, 2019

Harris - Burger Gallery

The FIA’s new Harris – Burger Gallery is an ideal venue for Breaking with Tradition, as the exhibition both reflects the passion of the collectors after which the gallery was named and continues the museum’s long history with contemporary ceramics. Dr. Robert and Deanna “Debbie” Harris Burger began giving selected works from their extensive collection of contemporary ceramics in 2005, and since that time, have donated more than 200 works. This gift served as a catalyst for the addition of the Contemporary Craft Wing. Debbie Burger credits her fascination with art to taking classes as a child at the FIA’s previous location on West First Street. 

In 1930, just two years after the FIA began as an Art School, J. Emmet Shultz, a ceramic modeler at the AC Spark Plug Tile Company, introduced a clay modeling class. In addition, several FIA Art School instructors worked at the Flint Faience and Tile Company. Clay classes have operated without interruption in the Art School, attracting a loyal following of ceramic students. In 1978, students formed the Clay Club, a group organized to support clay classes and the purchase of books and equipment, which remains in operation today. The FIA continues to collect ceramics, and this exhibition features works by artists bending the rules and subverting ideas about traditional ceramics, whether through use of unconventional subject matter, experimental treatment of materials, or as a means of individual expression.

From the Exhibition

  • Graham Marks, American, b. 1951. Untitled, 1979. Glazed and unglazed earthenware. 29 x 27 x 29 inches. Gift of Dr. Robert and Deanna Harris Burger, 2015.113