Having opened two weeks ago Clay’s Tectonic Shift: John Mason, Ken Price, and Peter Voulkos,
1956–1968 at The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery of Scripps College investigates the
work of these sculptural pioneers and their contribution to the artistic legacy of California in
honor of Pacific Standard Time.
On Saturday, January 21st, the RCW Gallery hosted an opening celebration with a keynote
address by Barbara Haskell of the Whitney Museum and walk-through by co-curator Frank
Lloyd. Other events throughout the weekend included a panel with artsts John Mason, John
Baldessari and Billy Al Bengston and panel moderator Hunter Drohojowska-Philp at the
Writers Boot Camp in Santa Monica focused on the theme of unexpected connections
and intersections within the LA art scene.
Clay’s Tectonic Shift revolves around three of the most dynamic craftsmen of the era, whose
altered the public perception of ceramics as a medium over craft. At this period, Los Angeles
served as the site of a “revolution in clay” with a small but profound group of artists
challenging studio pottery’s consciousness of utility over sculptural form. Mason, Price and
Voulkos, all working in the late 1950s and 1960s, emerged as sculptors creating a new visual
lexicon with their works in clay that vied with traditional media. This exhibition remains the
first to feature their work presented in conjunction with key pieces executed from 1956 to
According to Dr. Mary MacNaughton, director of the Williamson Gallery, the exhibition
aims to spotlight these three artists and describe how they impacted “the
conversation in ceramics from craft to art, creating fired-clay sculpture that was
unprecedented in ambition and originality.” The exhibition comes along with a catalog,
edited by Mary Davis MacNaughton, with essays by Michael Duncan, Frank Lloyd, Mary
MacNaughton, Suzanne Muchnic, and Karen Tsujimoto; Peter Plagens contributed the
foreword to the publication.
Running from January 21–April 8, 2012, the exhibition is open to the public and not to be
missed! More information here.