Pete Pinnell talk at NCECA

If I were going to NCECA this year I would catch Pete Pinnell’s talk on Friday at 11am. If you are in KC this year I recommend it! Over the last year I have stolen glimpses of his talk in a series of email conversations we’ve shared. Here is how its written up in the program and exhibition guide:

11:00am–12:00pm Grand Ballroom 2501 A (Level 2) LECTURE: HOLD IT RIGHT THERE (AC) By Peter Pinnell

One of the salient characteristics of pottery is that it can be useful. However, utility can also have an aesthetic aspect. This talk explores how people and pottery interact, both now and in the past, and how potters can use this thought process to better create, understand and evaluate pottery.

Programs director Mary Cloonan described Petes talk as this:

The incomparable and always informative Pete Pinnell provides food for thought for potters who make pots for food. For too long the debate of craft vs art has stymied and stigmatized the handcrafted object. Pete is going to put that argument in a headlock, make it cry “uncle” and show how they are intertwined and functionality does not negate an object’s beauty, but enhances it. You can’t serve your Thanksgiving turkey off of a Van Gogh. Well, at least I wouldn’t try. But I am a vegetarian.

His talk , Hold it right there will investigate the interaction between pottery and the people who love it; those who make it and those inviting it into their daily lives. Or as he more elegantly states: “We don’t just look at pottery: we experience pottery in a way that is complex and holistic.” Pete will motivate ceramic artists to work beyond just function and striving for a more inclusive approach

Think of it like a utility belt of elements and aspects to consider and appreciate,  encircling your studio practice. He muses “Generally speaking, pottery’s core functions deal with five aspects of food: eating, drinking, serving, preparation and storage.” He’ll provide historical and contemporary examples illustrating the impact of an aesthetic and tactile consideration paired with the use of the object. Using pottery should be an elevated encounter. How the cup sits in your hand, the sensory experience of the handle meeting your fingertips, how it holds and delivers sustenance and camaraderie.  He will discuss how the experience of using an object instills an aesthetic experience that can match or even rival the “transcending function” movement. Pete will provide a structure for critical thinking that will inspire the craftsman working in their studio and the teacher instructing their students.

The idea that one can own a beautiful, hand-crafted object and it can hold our morning coffee is fortunate indeed. It should not be underestimated, nor considered an impediment to its value.

pete p at nceca

If you go please tell Pete “Hi” from me 🙂


About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
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