Notes and Happenings from Ferrin Contemporary:Ceramic Specialists

On a recent visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, it was remarkable to see how the new selections from the permanent collection, currently on view made by curator, Emily Zilber reflect the work we are doing to prepare a private collection for sale this fall. As one generation of collectors “deaccess”, through sale and gifts, the museums are getting to define the period that is both now and then.



Since 2010, Emily Zilber, the Ronald C. and Anita L. Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts (a position within the Contemporary Art Department) at the MFA Boston, has taken her job and run with it.  Barely catching her breath after installing her ground breaking exhibition “New Blue and White”(which closed in July) she turned her attention to a reinstallation of the permanent collection.  On August 3, 2013 the dedicated gallery of contemporary decorative arts reopened and clearly shows the support she is getting from a core group of private collectors and within her institution.  Her choices from the permanent collection blend a hybrid mix of categories –  without prejudice or typical hierarchy – positioning the masters of studio craft and material based sculpture side by side with cutting edge explorations of concept that include photography and design.

The MFA named its contemporary craft gallery in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art after another power pair of benefactors Daphne and Peter Farago, whose collection was assembled with an encyclopedic eye to history and legacy.  Opened in 2011 with “Crafting Contemporary: Selections from the Daphne Farago Collection”, the first installation was an overview drawn from the over 950 objects that have been donated to the museum in Mrs. Farago’s lifetime.   This newest installation reflects the numerous recent acquisitions, both gifts and purchases – all identified with red squares.  Zilber’s choices show a wide range from  recent conceptual work by Nicole Cherubini, photography by Lauren Kalman adjacent to a loveseat by Wendel Castle and Tom Patti’s 1980 work in glass.

Zilber is one of the new generation of curators who are tackling the ongoing transition spanning a time period that combines primary cutting edge works by living artists with seminal works by those who carved out this field.  Her curatorial practice with the support of the MFA Boston and their benevolent private collectors is providing leadership for the way museums acquire and present contemporary decorative arts.

Emily Zilber is the MFA Boston’s first Ronald L. and Anita C. Wornick Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts, joining the museum in October 2010. She is responsible for the MFA’s program of contemporary decorative arts, including guiding acquisitions and developing a presence for this material in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art and throughout the museum. She oversees the MFA’s Daphne and Peter Farago Gallery. Recent projects include the exhibition New Blue-and-White, which focuses on contemporary interpretations of ceramic history by makers across media. Emily Zilber has edited and written for numerous publications and speaks regularly on topics related to 20th-century and contemporary decorative arts, craft, and design. She recieved a BA in Art History from The University of Chicago and an MA from the Bard Graduate Center for Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture.


About Daphne and Peter Farago

About Lauren Kalman, represented by Sienna Patti Contemporary

About private collections represented by Ferrin Contemporary

About New Blue and White curated by Emily Zilber at the MFA Boston


Visiting Friends on Sunday Afternoon -ROY AND MARA SUPERIOR have lived in Williamsburg, Massachusetts since the mid 70’s.  They’ve been making and collecting art and objects, filling their home with a chronology of their lives – his sculpture and furniture, her porcelain tableware and constructed vessels, his cabinets filled with her ceramics – ledges, shelves, side tables – framed works on paper – their home is an installation and lifetime collaboration.  Her work features images and phrases from an idealized life with titles prominently featured.  “Paradise” and shows a porcelain heaven, the new work, a commission is on the table “In Pursuit of Happiness” is based on Jefferson in the form of the White House.

For MORE on Mara Superior.

For MORE on Roy Superior.

OLD GROWTH FOREST –  A WALK IN THE WOODS and a rain shower –  “I don’t know if you can see this in the photo but …” walking near Project Art in the old growth forest this afternoon, it rained AND the sun was shining, AND I found chanterelles AND I was listening to Ben Carter’s interview with Vipoo Srivilasa AND at the end of the two hour interview, they spoke about when I met Vipoo at the Subversive Clay, 2012 Australian Ceramics Triennale Adelaide. It is a small world when you can walk through the forest in Cummington, Massachusetts and listen to a podcast by someone who is at Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Montana who is talking to someone from Thailand who lives in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia knowing that within a year, he will probably show up at Project Art in Cummington, MA. The “ANDS” could go on from here but I think you get the picture. Podcasts by Ben and Brian R. Jones make the world a smaller place. Vipoo and Mara are have works on view at Ferrin Contemporary located at Project Art in Cummington, MA.   Gallery open by appt and during public programs.  The next Artist Salon is Tuesday, August 13 6-8 p.m.

FOR MORE on Mara Superior and Vipoo Srivilasa onview at Ferrin Contemporary – Selected works from Current Procects
For MORE on Brian R. Jones and the JonesCast

For MORE on Ben Carter and Tales of the Red Clay Rambler


SUMMER 2013 at Project Art and Ferrin Gallery

Summer brings ART + ARTISTS from far away places around the world Adelaide, Australia, Jingdezhen, China, Seoul, Korea, to the small village in Cummington, MA, USA on the Eastern edge of the Berkshires, in the heart of the Hilltowns and just west of the Pioneer Valley.

The former mill building, on the bank of the Westfield River, became Project Art in 2007 and  home base for Sergei Isupov and Leslie Ferrin.  Now with Ferrin Contemporary located there, and Sergei and his wife Kadri traveling to Estonia in the summer, the studio hosts resident artists and new projects get launched.  This year the sessions run July – September.

Adjacent to the group studio on the first floor, Ferrin Contemporary exhibits selections from current projects and houses the library, offices and warehouse.

Our next open house and artist salon is Tuesday, August 14, 6 – 8:00, but other days, we are open by appointment.  Call 413.446.0614 or email


SERGEI ISUPOV – portrait plates and small sculptures featured in Small Works at Ferrin Contemporary, at Project Art, Cummington, MA, USA.

Selected works from our current projects, “Walk the Plank”, surfboard from New Blue and White by Stephen Bowers and Peter Walker and Moon Jar by Joon Park, one of the summer residents at Project Art.

giselle hicks | sergei isupov | stephen young lee | adam shiverdecker | jason walker | kurt weiser

Link to MORE …


JULY: Robin Best | Joon Park | Molly Weiss

AUGUST: Joon Park | Tanya Rudenjak | Wendy Gingell

Link to MORE on Project Art …


Link to “The Personal is Professional in American Craft Magazine by Sarah Buttenweiser


Robin Best is a visiting artist for the month at Project Art in Cummington, MA and one of the artists whose work was featured in New Blue and White at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston.  Upon arrival from Jingdezhen via London, she visited Boston, spoke at Harvard Ceramics and met curator, Emily Zilber for one last tour of the exhibition with artists, collectors and writers.  While the show at the museum closed on July 14, selected works from the exhibition are being shown this summer at Project Art by Ferrin Contemporary.

MORE about Meet Me At … two days of behind-the-scenes with artists, curators, art professionals and collectors, Juy 9 – 10.  

Link to MORE about Robin Best and works in New Blue and White at Project Art Summer 2013

Sometimes when you’re visiting a collection and there is an impulse to take a photo and share everything  you see, and then there is one object that conveys it all.  Henry Varnum Poor’s portrait of Ben Hecht, has a face that looks like someone I know, maybe even someone I was with.  Donald Clark, one of our archivists and project manager for The Marks Project, joined me at Yale.  This portrait platter from 1926 appears quite contemporary and old at the same time.  One of Clark’s many collections is a grouping of objects in all media that feature portraits of other people who look like him, many of them are gifts.  Yale’s collection is all online 24/7. 

Henry Varnum Poor,Plate with Portrait of Ben Hecht, 1926

Maker: Henry Varnum Poor, American, 1887 – 1970
Gift of Mrs. William R. Scott, John G. McCullough, Class of 1936, and Mrs. William G. Heaphy, by exchange  2004.84.1

POST FROM SCENE + SEEN – Great day at Yale with Patricia Kane and John Stewart Gordon discussing old and new, contemporary and historic decorative arts, new building and integration of the sculpture, paintings and decorative arts at Yale University Art Museum, New Haven, CT, USA.  On view this summer is the Waterbury Collection of Art and through July 14, Society Anonyme, Inc.

Rooftop Sculpture Garden – Aristede Maillol – old + new architecture, view from the roof.

MORE … meet up with John Gordon and Patricia Kane

MORE … Waterbury Collection of Wood Art and other current exhibitions at Yale University Art Gallery.


Kahn and Selesnick at MCLA Gallery 51, North Adams, MA.  This show, “The Other Hudson 2” opens on June 20, the launch of Downstreet Art 2013.  Extended hours during Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival, June 21 – 23 at MASS MoCA.   Follow SeenArtScene on Tumblr through the weekend for collected random sounds and images of the art, the artists and the scene around them.

MORE … Downstreet

MORE … Wilco Solid Sound Festival

Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick have been affiliated with Ferrin Contemporary on and off for over 20 years.  Following their sculpture as it becomes photographs and installations has been a long strange journey.  Great to see it altogether and presented at MCLA Gallery 51 … several of the photographs and sculptures were shown in COVET 2013 at Ferrin Gallery in Pittsfield in 2012.

MORE … FerrinGallery

Sarah Wertham Buttenweiser | “Leslie Ferrin wears three professional hats. Through Ferrin Gallery, which she established in 1979, she represents many contemporary artists, with an emphasis on figural sculpture and studio ceramics. She also has a busy roster of lectures and consulting gigs. And she’s the director of Project Art, an 8,000-square-foot live/work compound on the banks of the Westfield River in Cummington, Massachusetts, that hosts resident artists, exhibitions, salon-style talks, and potluck suppers. It’s also where Ferrin lives.  We asked the multifaceted Ferrin about her decidedly artful balancing act… You have an unusual living arrangement. Can you describe where you live – and who else lives here?”

Click here to read the full article.

NYC May 2013 at Collective design fair with the art dealers from left to right  Lewis Wexler, Sienna Patti and Stefan Friedemann at Collective.1, New York, NY “building collections – one object at a time”

NYC May 2013 at Collective design fair with the art dealers from left to right Lewis Wexler, Sienna Patti and Stefan Friedemann at Collective.1, New York, NY “building collections – one object at a time”

Emily Zilber, curator and Mark Cooper, artist , listening to Thomas Michie – about newly reinstalled Dutch rooms in context of New Blue and White, MFA Boston through July 14. His site specific work is one of the nearly 40 artists, designers and collaborators who are showing recent works in ceramic, glass and mixed media. #newblueandwhite meets #oldblueandwhite at #mfa #boston with #markcooper (at Museum of Fine Arts)

Emily Zilber, curator and Mark Cooper, artist – in conversation about his recent installation New Blue and White, MFA Boston through July 14. His site specific work is one of the nearly 40 artists, designers and collaborators who are showing recent works in ceramic, glass and mixed media.