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NC Pottery Center opens two exhibits this fall

Posted on 06/30/11

Seagrove, NC - There's something wild, and just a little scary, going on in Seagrove again. It's too early, and way too hot for Halloween, so what are those crazy Carolina potters up too now? Well, down at the North Carolina Pottery Center in Seagrove there are two intriguing exhibitions opening in August ... be afraid; be very afraid, for one involves death, the other wildfire.

The cemetery may seem an unusual place for the work of the North Carolina potter, but for Alamance, Moore, Randolph, and Union Counties, there remains solid evidence that they produced a variety of grave markers as well as flowerpots and urns. The predominant form was the "jug marker," which was turned like the common jug but closed off at the top and surmounted with a decorative finial or knob. Since they were not functional, like a whiskey jug, grave markers offered a sense of play, an opportunity for potters to exercise their imaginations. But on most, decoration was very restrained; incised or impressed designs, names, and dates were simple and quickly stamped into the wet clay. Some of the forms are soaring and graceful, but most reflect the old utilitarian shapes and techniques. All these tendencies seem in keeping with the pragmatic nature of the old potters, whose purpose was to produce an inexpensive, relatively durable memorial for family and friends. This exhibition will feature historical markers from the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as contemporary memorials made for friends by Burlon Craig, Vernon Owens, and Mark Hewitt.

The pots in the second show are no tamer. Imagine a giant jar of hot molasses drip, drip, dripping onto a perfectly baked hot biscuit. Now imagine potters firing a wood-burning kiln to 2400 Fahrenheit, while knowing that the kiln itself was melting onto the pots inside. Talk about crazy, talk about pyromania! These "Wild Fire" Alamance County pots were given a true trial-by-fire as kiln drips and wood ash oozed and melted over the surfaces of the pots. They possess a devilish beauty and are a cold-eyed portrait of an inferno. Some say that pots often resemble people, with their bellies, shoulders, feet, and lips, some are tall and elegant, and some are short and stout. These Alamance pots with their fiery surfaces are "messed up" in the most beautiful way. We all know people like that, don't we?

Complementing these historical shows, are beautiful pots made by four exceptional contemporary Alamance County potters: Pamela Groben, Peggy McCormick, Susan Kern, and Coy Quakenbush. We are delighted to invite statewide potters to the Center to show the variety and quality being made across the state.

As you can see, the North Carolina Pottery Center continues to be at the epicenter of pottery scholarship and advocacy, with rotating exhibitions highlighting work from across the state (both ancient and modern), fine educational programs, and strong community support. The Center is a resilient and robust resource for legions of pottery-loving North Carolinians.

The mission of the North Carolina Pottery Center is to promote public awareness of and appreciation for the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina. The Center is located at 233 East Avenue in Seagrove, NC. Hours of operation are Tue - Sat 10 am - 4 pm. For more information, please call 336.873.8430 or go to www.ncpotterycenter.org.

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