Category Archives: Member Activities

Activities of the members of the New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists.

NMPCA Sunport Show

From February 4 to March 16, 2017, the NMPCA displayed a show of beautiful ceramic work at the Albuquerque Sunport, in the display cases located in the breezeway between the parking garage and the terminal.  Watch the video here.

Committee member, Seri Kotowski, thanks participants and describes some of the unique aspects of staging this show.

Sunport Display at Albuquerque International Airport Wrap-Up
by Seri Kotowski

On behalf of the Sunport Showcase Committee of Sara D’Alessandro, Barbara Campbell and myself, Seri Kotowski, I would like to thank the artists for a beautiful and successful display at the Albuquerque International Airport this winter. The committee worked very hard to design the show not only aesthetically but also logistically, not an easy task considering the constraints of the display configuration and the spectrum of artist/members of NMPCA. Thank you Sara for your perseverance in making the arrangements with Erika Anaya and thank you Erika for the opportunity!

Many thanks to Andrew Connors, Curator of Art, Albuquerque Museum, who was our award juror for Celebration of Clay, 2016

I saw your installation at the Sunport.  Congratulations on a terrific  show. The work was very powerful, some of those things I wish we had in the gallery exhibition last summer.  Congratulations on making a great show for visitors to New Mexico.

So, let’s all put our best work forward for the Celebration of Clay 2017!

Thank you to additional NMPCA board members for their special contributions.

Thank you to Leonard Baca for the really fun time-lapse video of the Sunport installation. Of course, thanks to Judy Nelson-Moore who helped artists to get operating on the NMPCA Studio Tour website (no small feat, occurring at the time of the year when most membership is renewing) and worked with Barbara designing the e-invitation for the show.

Leonard Baca also, along with the Baca family owned Business Printing Service, provided labels for exhibit and for the beautiful cards that visitors and artists could take for a reminder to visit NMPCA website.  Additionally, Leonard provided technical expertise and worked with Sara on various aspects of pre-designing the display.

Michael Thornton was there to help participants and the committee stay logistically organized and focused for set-up and takedown of the display at the airport. There was definitely a potential for chaos without his patience and calm demeanor.

Special thanks to the Rio Grande Sun and Robert Eckert for the incredible article and photographs; NMPCA appreciates the interest in the arts shown by this Northern New Mexico publication.

All of this together, made for a wonderful and memorable display of clay artists in New Mexico, thank you all.

Armstrong Grant 2017

The NMPCA sponsors a grant, providing money for projects in education about the ceramic arts.  Over the years, many different communities have benefited from this grant and the work and expertise of the people who apply for the grant projects.  Read about these projects on the NMPCA Website.  Above is a picture of the students at Dixon Elementary studying clay from the 2015 grant.  And here’s a previous article about 2016 grants.

Armstrong GrantThe deadline to apply for the 2017  grant is March 15, 2017. 


Funds may be used for equipment, supplies, workshop instructors and special programs or projects that provide education in the ceramic arts. The annual award is a maximum of $1000. Proposals for lesser amounts would also be welcome for consideration. Grants from previous years have been awarded to schools, after-school programs, community projects, programs for those with special needs, etc. Organizations must be designated 501(c)3 and may not apply 2 years in a row.

The application process is simple and should not dissuade anyone from applying for the grant. A simple outline is described on our website Just click on “Programs/Grant” for the information. Clear directions are provided. The monies will be made available by June 30th after the applications are researched and the Board makes the final decision on the recipient. Site visits are made whenever possible as part of this process.

Please pass this information on to anyone you know who might benefit from this offering. Although this is not a large sum of money, it has surely provided a welcome help to many programs and projects over the years. 

Questions can be directed to Daisy Kates at  

Celebration of Clay 2016

The NMPCA has been holding a “Celebration of Clay” exhibit for…nobody is sure quite how long…15-20 years in my memory.  This year’s exhibit is one of the best we have ever had.  The quality of the work is high, and the setting and arrangement make for a good looking show.  The Celebration of Clay committee would like to thank everybody who participated in and attended this year’s Celebration of Clay. The opening reception and the member guest reception were well attended and gave everybody the opportunity to meet and socialize.

Most of the comments I heard were praises on the quality of the work and how exquisite the gallery looked. A Thank You needs to be extended all the members for their work on setting up the space and the forty members who enter a piece, or pieces, in the show. Other comments I heard were how to get more people to see the show, please extend an invitation to your friends to see the show before it closes this Saturday. A preview is available at


An article  on September 8, 2015, in the Rio Grande Sun by Bob Eckert, eloquently shows and describes many of the pieces of the show. Read the full article here.


The theme for this year’s shows is “Confrontations”. Judging for Best of Show and for the three Merit Awards was based on craft, creativity and correlation to the theme. Confrontation may be interpreted in many ways: as social criticism, as comment on the human condition, or as the tension between opposites: near & far, solid & fluid, fire & ice.

The beauty, quality, functionality award Sponsored by the Porcelain Vessels course at UNM, while any of the other awards can certainly be function pieces, this award is reserved for the functional piece that the jurors feel is the best.

This year’s show Juror was Andrew Connors, Curator of Art, Albuquerque Museum.

People’s Choice Award The piece receiving the most votes through opening night paper ballots, ballots collected at the gallery through the Member Guest reception and during on-line voting is given the People’s Choice award. While no monetary value is associated with this award, the piece is featured on the homepage of the NMPCA websites at and The People’s Choice award is a popular way for everyone to enjoy the exhibit.

This year’s awards are shown here:


See a view of the entire show at

Leonard Baca and Sara D’Alessandro, Show Co-Chairmen
Judy Nelson-Moore, show committee

Christine Golden Was “Golden”

I have been trying to figure out “the Figure” for the last 3 years. It was mine and my husband’s plan that once our son had finished his bachelor’s I would be free to go back to school. The realization dawned that it would be extremely difficult to “go to” graduate school. We live in Abiquiu, New Mexico and are quite planted there, with both obligations and a passion for the place. Going “off” to school wasn’t as feasible as it once was. The solutions for me were workshops. This year alone I’ve been to 5 workshops and I’m not through yet.

August 15-19, 2016 – I went to a wonderful workshop at Santa Fe Clay, which wasn’t even a long arduous drive from home to attend. Christine Golden taught her method of building the figure in “Beyond the Figure”.  Christine Golden is a figurative ceramic sculptor whose work is extraordinary. She has been working with clay since she was 15 years old, and has around 20 years’ experience in the media.

Christine Golden

Christine Golden was in some ways the most valuable workshop I’ve attended yet. She builds the figure from slabs, a technique that I love. I already build hollow for the most part any way, but this method provided me with so much more exact control of anatomically correct forms. I was and am truly amazed at the precision that can be attained through working with slabs. I have been to several workshops that address the face, some that discussed the shoulders, but this one went beyond to encompass the torso, arms and hands.

Now I know there are some out there that would say to me that each time I’ve gone to another of my heroes’ workshop I say “this was the best one yet” and I have to confess that is true. There is an element of catching more and more each time as each teacher has a different approach so that hearing some things from a different perspective can help to truly clarify them in your mind. With that said though, Christine Golden was “golden”. She is such a gracious and giving teacher with an unending amount of energy and focus. Her preciseness in building the figure reminded me of Tip Tolland. Many of the measurements, average head heights and anatomical references, I had heard Tip Tolland discuss. At the week’s end, references to emotional expression in the face reminded me of Tip also.

Christine Golden Santa Fe Clay August 15-19, 2016

Christine Golden’s approach to the face was similar to Debra Fritts, although not exactly the same. Christine relies on a tape measure and Debra presents her information based on traditional drawing and painting proportions of the face. Debra often uses the idea of drawing with clay to reinforce those concepts.

Golden’s building for the torso and arms can be compared Lisa Clague’s method, although each have their own unique approach. Christine also gave specific measurements to keep the figure on track and anatomically speaking. Golden once again always reckoned back to specific measurements to retain correct proportions. I really appreciate adding that tool, which lends a more precise way to build, to my tool box. All and all I feel like I have gained years of experience in just five days.

Christine Golden Santa Fe Clay August 15-19, 2016
Jacquita Beddo at Christine Golden Workshop Santa Fe Clay

Another windfall from this workshop was meeting and getting to know Lauren Karle. She was Christine’s assistant for the workshop. She, of course, is also a member of NMPCA and will teach a segment at the upcoming New Mexico Connections workshop at Ghost Ranch September 9-11, 2016. Lauren will be presentingSewing Clay:  Darting Slip-transferred Slabs.” The workshop is sold out but there is a waiting list. I hope you don’t miss this opportunity to get to know another extraordinary member of the NMPCA.

“Confrontations” A focus on the medium of clay as thought provoker

The choice of “Confrontations”, for the theme for New Mexico Potters and Clay Artists’ annual Celebration of Clay exhibition, shifts the paradigm to focus on the medium of clay as thought provoker and away from the paradigm of function.  The tradition of fired clay in human history is long and essential.   An easily accessed material, ubiquitous around the globe, is worked many ways and provides necessities such as pottery, building materials, and liquid containment.  The plastic quality of unfired clay promotes spontaneous expression.  When working small this is akin to playing with dolls.  Clay can convey gesture directly into the material and record it.   In some cases it can even record the intent of the gesture.   This spontaneity is the initial seduction of clay for most clay artists and invites a non-verbal release of ideas.

In our fast moving society there is little time for contemplation, a necessity for rational thinking and decision making.   Thought is often reduced to a quick reaction (fill in the correct bubble).  Images in the public realm are always accompanied by text telling us:   think this, or buy that, etc.   The maw of media reduces dialogue to oppositional sound bites; hammering away at rational thought process and clarity, pulverizing the possibility of real social dialogue and promotes stasis.   Monoculture thinking is not thinking.  It is no surprise we often find ourselves at a loss encountering an image with no text or title directing our thoughts.    When words fail to address essential issues, image presented with no text has wonderful potency because it engages different parts of our cognitive skills.    Asking difficult questions of the viewer, rather than solely presenting beautiful objects (I love beautiful objects, by the way) which sooth the viewer, is needed to stimulate thought and is needed for art to be meaningful and engaging.  Sometimes a jolt is required to enlarge dialogue.   This is what the theme “Confrontations” hopes to elicit.

Margit Morawietz
Margit Morawietz

Here are three entrees, types of cups, for consideration; each approach the theme differently.   Cup, a vessel of vital function, represents comfort and domesticity.  We may even go so far to say it is a symbol of culture, present and past.  The cups offered by Margit Morawietz present an immediate confrontation:  Does one want to drink from either of these cups whose throats’ dark interiors harbor mysteries and perhaps house creatures.   How can one drink from such a cup?  A straw could be used as a work-around.  These disfigured cups still hold liquid but have limited use and are the source of no comfort.  They communicate viscerally corruption, frustration and distrust.

Betsy Williams
Betsy Williams


The second set of cups are stoneware with a white slip by Betsy Williams.  The theme is explicit on the outside as a design, a form of signage.  The theme is offered at an intellectual remove.   The message is secondary to function in the same way of pictured tee-shirts.  The tee-shirts may be crass and the cups are elegant but the relation of function and use of message are the same.  Williams’ cups calmly reassure the observer of the continuum of culture.

Allen Gresham - Happy Accident
Allen Gresham – Happy Accident


The third example is a cup by Allen Gresham.  This well-formed cup has been savaged to the point of no function.  Although potters know this slicing is performed to check wall thickness and uniformity and the artist has labeled this as “Happy Accident”, the resulting image presented is contrary to the title.  This cup can hold no liquid; it can warm no heart.  Here is an example of clay’s ability to display intent.   Anger and a desire for retribution are communicated.   No cultural or domestic assurance is here.

All works exhibited in this exhibition are hand built and are unique.  This show is “artist choice”, by that we mean points of view may have teeth because they are unfettered by usual market considerations (that works required to be:  cute; within a certain price range; not able to offend anyone) are offered.

Juror on the theme of the show is Andrew L. Connors, Curator of Art at the Albuquerque Museum, with credentials thick in folk art history.

All opinions expressed here are mine and not necessarily those of the juror or the Board.  Rebuttals in the form of an article gratefully accepted by the Slip Trail.

Submitted by Sara Lee D’Alessandro,

See pictures of the works in the Celebration of Clay Show and vote for People’s Choice award starting September 1.

President’s Letter – Lee Akins

For this President’s Letter, I wanted to tell you a little about myself.

I have served on NMPCA Board for about 5 years and as President since 2015 . My pottery career started with teaching Ceramics for several years in grades K-12 and then teaching in craft centers and on the college level for the past 38 years.  My wife and I built our current house and studio in an old apple orchard in the little village of Rinconada outside of Dixon. 

I joined NMPCA to get to know more clay artists around the state and have the opportunity to participate in workshops and exhibits.  Perhaps you also joined to be able to participate in workshops and shows; if so, we have both coming up soon.

Our annual Celebration of Clay is coming up September 1-2. (See details) Hopefully, you will all enter to have the opportunity to show along side the rest of our membership.

Lee Akins reviewing the results of Tin-foil saggar firing session. Lee led the session at the Ghost Ranch workshop, New Mexico Connections.  From left to right:  Leonard Baca, Lee Akins, Jacquita Beddo, Judy Nelson-Moore.

We also have a full slate of workshops coming to Ghost Ranch. Some of you have been able to come and help get the new temporary space ready. (See details)  The workshops offer something for everyone; plan to attend at least one and maybe more!

Our Annual Meeting in Albuquerque in June offered the chance to share food and images of the membership’s work. We want to welcome three new board members:

Judith Richey, Mike Thornton and Sheri Kotowski.    The group said a fond farewell to Judy Nelson-Moore.  Judy has served on the Board for 13 years and is taking a well-deserved break. We will miss her computer skills and endless dedication to the organization.

Lastly I want to continue providing programs that meet the interests of all the members. NMPCA is a volunteer run organization so if you want something to happen, jump in and help us. We would like to have more informal social get-togethers so let us know if you have any ideas about where and how to have them.   

Hoping to see you at one of our summer activities,

Lee Akins