Toshiko Takaezu, “Form Blue #31”, 1990, porcelain, 19″H

Beatrice Wood, “Men are not to be looked at”, 1978, colored pencil, pencil on paper, 10.625 H

Elsa Rady, “Four Zig Wings”, private collection

BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING | Notes from Director Leslie Ferrin



As we emerge from the year spent sheltering in place, exhibitions are reopening, paused plans are taking form, and exhibitions for 2021 are getting scheduled. We’re seeing new artwork emerging from studios telling stories from this time, and we are watching profound change take place at record pace in institutions throughout the country.

In March 2020, we went into lockdown with an exhibition Nature/Nurture, that had just opened and featured a diverse group of twelve women artists working in ceramics. With support from PPP, we used the opportunity to focus on each artist and explore the role of gender, identity at this stage in their careers. Over the twelve weeks, we learned from each of them about the women artists who inspired, mentored, and blazed a path that fractured glass ceilings during their lifetimes. As the year progressed, our work with artist archives and private collections led to new discoveries and shifting priorities. As we work with curators and collectors, we are seeing increased visibility for artists whose work was overlooked and undervalued during their lifetimes and well-deserved attention.

During this year, profound social movements have put pressure on institutions to reflect on their origins, collections and programs through the lens of diversity and equity. As they address gaps in their collections, we are watching opportunities for both past and living artists grow. We are hopeful that changes that began with small fractures in glass ceilings have further broken through barriers based on gender and identity to include not just the collections and programming but also staff and leadership.

With this newsletter, we bring you some highlights of the work we’ve been doing and the exhibitions we’ve been learning about that are contributing to the change we are watching take place in our lifetimes and invite you to make plans to continue the discussion in person and see our summer exhibition The Melting Point a group show of artists working in ceramics and glass in partnership with Heller Gallery.

Director’s Notes – Leslie Ferrin – May 2021


(American, 1922-2011)

In 2015, The Ceramic Presence in Modern Art: Selections from the Linda Leonard Schlenger Collection and the Yale University Art Gallery featured three spheres by Toshiko Takaezu in visual dialog with 20th paintings by Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, and Sylvia Plimack Mangold. At the time, it was one of the first survey ceramic exhibitions to integrate works associated with craft in galleries with contemporary fine art. Takaezu’s works continue to lead this dialog in museum exhibitions currently on view at MFA Boston, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

An in-depth collection of her work can be seen at Racine Art Museum (RAM) from individual forms to multi-part installations and includes the Star Series, an installation comprised of 14 “human-sized” forms.

Toshiko Takaezu, Form (Makaha) Blue #31, 1990, porcelain, 19″H

(American, 1943–2011) known in the 1980s and 1990s for her exquisitely designed porcelain vessels. The Edge of Elegance: Porcelains by Elsa Rady solo exhibition on view at the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA through Nov 1.

Elsa Rady, Four Zig Wings, 1986, 9″H


(American, 1893-1998) In addition to her ceramic works, Beatrice Wood maintained a daily drawing practice to explore the female form, desire, and sexuality – oftentimes using humor to poke fun at the traditional roles available to women during her time.

Beatrice Wood Selected Works is in the viewing room at Andrew Kreps Gallery.

Tête-à-Tête-à-Tête: Drawings by Beatrice Wood is on view at Everson Museum of Art through August 8.

Beatrice Wood, Men are not to be looked at, 1978, colored pencil, pencil on paper, 10×13″


(American, b.1939) Ferrin Contemporary is pleased to present the Coille Hooven Legacy Project. The archive collection offers an opportunity to acquire documented, historical works from a famously feminist ceramicist, whose work combines sculptural narrative and blue and white porcelain traditions.

For Now or Future Retrieval features “In God We Trust”, 1978 at the Cincinnati Art Museum through Aug 22.

Coille Hooven, Petite Fille, 1986, porcelain, 9.75″H


On view through May 31.

Crafting America presents a diverse and inclusive story of American craft from the 1940s to today, featuring over 100 works in ceramics, fiber, wood, metal, glass, and more unexpected materials.

READ … Celebrating Women Artists in Crafting America

“I didn’t want a flat surface to work on but a three-dimensional one” – Toshiko Takaezu, featured with Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell


“Women Take the Floor” challenges the dominant history of 20th-century American art by focusing on the overlooked and underrepresented work and stories of women artists. This reinstallation—or “takeover”—of Level 3 of the Art of the Americas Wing advocates for diversity, inclusion, and gender equity in museums, the art world, and beyond.

READ … Women take the floor: an exhibition that shifts the male gaze of art history – At the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, female artists throughout history are being given their due in a vital new exhibition … The Guardian – Nadja Sayej