NATURE OF NURTURING | Notes from Director, Leslie Ferrin

NATURE OF NURTURING | Notes from Director Leslie Ferrin

A renewed awareness and galvanizing commitment for change is surging through American cultural and academic institutions, organizations, and businesses of every sort, exposing the crying need for structural change. Specifically, this includes the advancement of equality for artists of all genders, eliminating the sexual harassment, wage discrimination, and the other forms of sexism that continue to affect the lives of women, transgender and non-binary individuals. As part of the movement to reverse and rebalance priorities as well as open new doors, it is crucial to offer opportunities to artists who have been historically marginalized.

Ferrin Contemporary has invited twelve female artists to pause and reflect on the role gender plays in their artistic practice, to consider the impact of the #MeToo movement, and/or to examine how the constructs of gender and gendered behavior impact their personal and professional lives. Nature assigned these artists who identify as female on a given path, whereas nurture is an accumulation of experiences and influences has had both positive and negative impact on their personal and professional lives.

Individual artworks do not always offer specific references to identity through direct content. However, a close look at the career paths in the short biographies and written statements in this exhibition, Nature/Nurture reveals information about how each of these artists – members of several different generations – has sustained her creative practice. The ceramic artworks in Nature/Nurture converge in a dialogue and accumulation of experiences and influences; they reflect on positive and negative forces shaping contemporary female and non-binary identities. Together, through the artwork, statements and biographies, these women artists who identify as female and are at various stages of their careers, convey different experiences defined by their gender, age, geographic and cultural identities.

Mara Superior, Sally Silberberg, Tricia Zimic have had decades-long careers that began before the two youngest, now in their 30’s were born. Unlike the women who began their career in the 70’s, Crystal Morey and Lauren Mabry and others born in the 80’s are already well established with museums actively acquiring important mid-career works. Linda Sikora and Linda Sormin have balanced their international artistic practices with teaching in University programs. As a graduate student, Linda Sikora was unable to attend a program led by a female professor. Linda Sormin, of the generation following, pursued graduate studies specifically with three leading women artists Linda Sikora, Andrea Gill and Anne Currier. Likewise, Giselle Hicks and Cristina Córdova had the advantage of powerful female faculty and confidence that led to independent paths, establishing their own studio practice supported by periodic short term teaching, unhindered by the politics of full-time academia. International artists, Kadri Pärnamets (Estonia), Rae Stern (Israel) and Anina Major (Bahamas)

have located their practices in the USA where residencies have welcomed them, supported the development of their work and proximity to the marketplace.

For the two artists who began their careers in the 70’s, their education took place in institutions with male-dominated programs. As they began their careers, the studio craft movement provided independent economic security and a “workaround” for women whose chosen media, ceramics, had yet to be embraced by the fine art world. For those who followed beginning their careers in the 90’s and until the market crash in 2008, the glass ceiling showed cracks. Women were hired in academic positions, replacing retiring male faculty as programs were rebalanced to achieve diversity.

Starting in the eighties, studio craft was avidly collected by private collectors through fairs, galleries and directly from the artists themselves. The ultimate goal of self-support through sales was viable for a large number of artists but that ended with the recession. For those who began their professional careers at a time when the market system had collapsed, these artists were ultimately fortunate as a new path opened for work in ceramics when the groundbreaking survey exhibition in 2009, “Dirt on Delight” jettisoned ceramics into the broader field of contemporary fine art in the USA. In addition, the explosion of international biennales inclusive of ceramics and craft that provided context for material based artworks in the broader art scene.

This wide acceptance for ceramics and the other female associated media, fiber arts, has settled the Art vs. Craft debate. For both emerging and established artists whose chosen primary material was previously segregated and independent from the mainstream, these new opportunities for their works have begun to balance the gender and cultural gap of representation at galleries and museums. Foundation support for diversity initiatives have had a significant impact through awards for artist fellowships and new scholarship. For those whose work took the form of vessels or studio pottery, a new generation of curators have embraced their work by making connections between practicing contemporary artists and past masterworks in the areas of decorative arts and design.

Inspired by the important work of Judith Butler and Helen Longino, the artists in this show were invited to explore the influence of ‘Nature/Nurture’ within their practice. Their work ranges from more direct interpretations of the natural world, to more abstract notions, such as the construction of gender, and endowed role of women.  “Possibility is not a luxury; it is as crucial as bread.” ― Judith Butler, Undoing Gender, 2004

Seen as a whole, this group of twelve women artists who live and work throughout the USA, is representative of the rising tide of professional opportunities. While significant earnings and advancement gaps remain, a course correction is underway through the increasing number of gender and culturally specific exhibitions. As priorities shift for museum collections, educational public programming and private collectors, these efforts to course-correct are bringing recognition to artists previously overlooked and undervalued and to undocumented legacies. Nature/Nurture seeks to contribute to and further this recognition.

Leslie Ferrin, director Ferrin Contemporary

a group exhibition of twelve contemporary female artists invited to explore the influence of gender and its impact on their practice.

Read the NATURE/NURTURE series

NATURE/NURTURE | Group Show of 12 Women Artists
LESLIE FERRIN | Director Notes | Nature of Nurturing
CRISTINA CORDOVA | Nature/Nurture | PBS Craft in America – Identity
GISELLE HICKS | Tiles & Vessels | Teaching Online in the Time of COVID19

LAUREN MABRY | Nature/Nurture | Cylinders & Flow Blocks
ANINA MAJOR | Nature/Nurture | No Vacancy in Paradise
CRYSTAL MOREY | Nature/Nurture | Museum Acquisitions
KADRI PÄRNAMETS | Nature/Nurture | Small Matters and Roots & Pollinators
LINDA SIKORA | Nature/Nurture | On Nurture: Our Social and Political Spaces
MARA SUPERIOR | Nature/Nurture | Museum Acquisitions
RAE STERN | Nature/Nurture | In Fugue
TRICIA ZIMIC | Nature/Nurture | Sins & Virtues



Posted by AxelJ in Blog, News, NOTES FROM DIRECTOR
New York Ceramics & Glass Fair 2018

New York Ceramics & Glass Fair 2018

Ferrin Contemporary at the
Jan 18–21, 2018

Kurt Weiser, “Random House (globe)” 2017, porcelain, glaze, china paint, metal, 30 x 14 x 14″.

Chris Antemann

“Revive, Remix, Respond: Contemporary Ceramic Artists
at The NYC&GF and The Frick Pittsburgh”

Organized by Dawn Reid Brean, Associate Curator of Decorative Arts
at The Frick Pittsburgh, and Leslie Ferrin, Director of Ferrin Contemporary.

20 contemporary artists respond to and produce new works
that reference the art, objects and social history of the The Frick’s collections.
Full exhibition at The Frick Pittsburgh:
February 16–May 27, 2018.

“Revive, Remix, Respond:
Contemporary Ceramic Artists at The Frick Pittsburgh”

with Dawn Brean and attending artists
Friday, January 19, 2–3 pm
Click for more.


Bohemian National Hall
(Between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
321 East 73rd Street
New York, NY 10021


Wed, January 17th | 5–8:30pm

General Admission
Thu–Sat | 11am–7pm
Sun | 11am–4pm
No Admittance Sunday after 3:30pm

Posted by AxelJ in Blog, 0 comments
Sabbath: The 2017 Dorothy Saxe Invitational

Sabbath: The 2017 Dorothy Saxe Invitational

Sabbath: The 2017 Dorothy Saxe Invitational

Nov 12, 2017—Feb 25, 2018
Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, CA
Ferrin Contemporary artists Sergei Isupov, Jason Walker, Kurt Weiser, and Beth Lipman are among the diverse group of fifty-seven artists interpreting the Sabbath — the day of rest — from their own unique perspectives and engaging with its contemporary relevance. All work is three-dimensional as artists explore the theme through ceramic, wood, and glass.

Click for Contemporary Jewish Museum.

Click for more about Sergei Isupov.

Click for more about Jason Walker.

Click for more about Kurt Weiser.

Click for more about Beth Lipman.

Click to browse Ferrin Contemporary’s Square Shop.

Posted by AxelJ in Artist News, Current Events, Events, Highlights, News
The Women

The Women

Cristina Córdova, “Encanto” 2017, clay & mixed media drawing on acid-free cardboard, 82 x 60”.


Ferrin Contemporary presents selected works by women artists whose primary medium is clay. On view in the gallery and online, we introduce new works by emerging and established artists along with masterworks available from private collections and artist archives.

ON VIEW at Ferrin Contemporary
1315 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA
through Dec 31, 2017

Click here to view full news item.
Click here to view show online.

Posted by AxelJ in Artist News, Highlights, News




FERRIN CONTEMPORARY, located on the campus of MASS MoCA, lies in the heart of the Berkshires.

The gallery is located at 1315 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams.

SUMMER HOURS: now open daily 11am–5pm.


New Work
ON VIEW at Ferrin Contemporary.

Click for more.
Click to inquire.


Sculpture & Photography
ON VIEW at Ferrin Contemporary

Click for more.
Click to inquire.


Ceramics & Prints
ON VIEW at Ferrin Contemporary

Click for more.
Click to inquire.


Friday–Sunday, June 23–June 25 at MASS MoCA

Please note that parking will be limited. To visit the gallery, park in town and walk over or call ahead to make an appointment for a temporary pass, 413.346.4404.

Click for more.


Friday–Sunday, June 23–June 25

Courtyard A at MASS MoCA during Solid Sound

Thursday, June 29th during DOWNSTREET ART

This collaborative group of potters will bring their 17-foot van to connect with the community by making and inviting visitors to create simple​ ​ceramic pots.

Click for more.


Thursday, June 29, starting at 5:00pm

An evening program of visual and performing art events including exhibitions, video screenings, and site-specific installations throughout downtown North Adams and the MASS MoCA campus.

Save future DOWNSTREET dates: July 27 & August 24.

Click for more.


Friday, July 28, 6–8:30pm

Local Beer, Food, Studio Pottery, Music
Benefit Party and Sale for Studio Potter
at Project Art, 54 Main Street, Cummington

Click for more.


MASS MoCA’s main parking area is adjacent to
Ferrin Contemporary in Building 13. Start or end your day with us. Explore The World of MASS MoCA and Downtown North Adams for more local art, food, and beer.

Click for more about visiting.

Posted by AxelJ in Events, News, Past events
Renwick Alliance: Berkshire Tour in October

Renwick Alliance: Berkshire Tour in October

Mint Museum Founder’s Circle & James Renwick Alliance
A Visual Arts Experience in Western Massachusetts
October 19–22, 2017
curated itinerary focused on studio ceramics and glass for up to 20

If your group (of ten or more) is interested in your own curated tour of the arts in the Berkshires, let us know. We’d love to help you plan.

Sergei Isupov
Sergei Isupov
Josh Simpson
Josh Simpson

Every year, cultural tourism attracts visitors from all corners of the globe to the Berkshires, drawn by the opportunity to experience contemporary art and culture at world-class institutions, including museums, theaters and galleries.

Director Leslie Ferrin of Ferrin Contemporary and Project Art, a specialist in contemporary clay, with the help of Mark Leach, Independent Arts Writer, Museum Consultant, and Founding Director and Chief Curator of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, will curate a four day/three night tour of Western Massachusetts with a focus on studio ceramics and glass.

Guests will make connections with key people in behind-the-scenes experiences with curators and artists. They will experience the Berkshire’s slow food movement at a range of fabulous dining experiences. Two special meals that include sampling local crafted beers and farm produce will be presented on locally-made tableware. These will take place in the studios of Josh Simpson and at Project Art with Sergei Isupov and resident artists.

Studio visits include:
• artists-in-residence at the studios at MASS MoCA
• various artists working in the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts
ceramicists: Mark Shapiro and Mara Superior
sculptors: Sergei Isupov and Kadri Pärnamets
visiting artist: Paul Scott
glass artists: Josh Simpson and Wesley Fleming

Click here sign up for the tour.

Posted by AxelJ in Blog
Penn State News: Jason Walker invited artist at Korean ceramic festival

Penn State News: Jason Walker invited artist at Korean ceramic festival


Tammy Hosterman reports in the PENN State News: 
Alumnus Jason Walker an invited artist at prominent Korean ceramic festival

May 23, 2017

Penn State alumnus Jason Walker is an invited artist in “Story Telling: About Life” at the ninth Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale (GICB) 2017 in Korea, presented by the Korea Ceramic Foundation. The exhibition began April 22 and runs through May 28 at the Icheon World Ceramics Center in Icheon Cerapia, Gyeonggi province.

“It is a great honor to be a part of this exhibition,” said Walker, who earned his master of fine arts degree in 1999. “I was invited to the event in 2003 to demonstrate and lecture. When I visited at that time I did not realize how celebrated ceramics is in South Korea. I have dedicated my life to making my ceramic work, and I feel very fortunate to have this kind of recognition.” More.

Click to read full article.

Click to see more work by Jason Walker.

Posted by AxelJ in Artist News, News, 0 comments