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Garth Johnson leaves position as ASU Art Museum ceramics curator

The Ceramics Research Center is currently without a curator awaiting the search for a replacement


Garth Johnson, former curator of ceramics, poses in front of "Recorded Matter: Ceramics in Motion," on April 29, 2015 in Tempe, AZ. "Recorded Matter" was the first exhibit he curated for the ASU Art Museum.

Garth Johnson, the curator of ceramics for the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center, has left his position — one he held since December 2014. 

Johnson made the announcement on his Facebook page on March 31. In the post Johnson said, “serving as the curator of ceramics there has been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of my life. Their collection is unparalleled, and the valley’s ecosystem of artists, collectors and donors is among the best in the country.”

March 30 was Johnson's last day after his contract ended and the museum did not renew it. The museum will be searching for a replacement for Johnson in the near future, according to an ASU Art Museum spokesperson.

Since its opening in March 2002, the Center on Mill Avenue has housed a ceramics collection of more than 4,000 pieces. 

Johnson declined to provide further comment for The State Press.

ASU Art Museum Director Miki Garcia thanked Johnson for "his service to the art museum."  

“He was a champion of our ceramics collection, and we are grateful," Garcia wrote in an email statement to The State Press. "ASU Art Museum remains dedicated to the research, collection and exhibition of contemporary craft and ceramics and acknowledges this as one of the most important assets of the organization." 

In a video profile of Johnson posted by the Tempe Tourism Office on Sept. 12, 2017 Johnson said, “I have lived all over the country, but the ASU Ceramics Research Center really is the best collection of its type and was my dream job.”

Heather Lineberry, senior curator and interim director for the ASU Art Museum also offered a statement about the future of the Ceramics Research Center.

"We have an exciting 2018 season of exhibitions and visiting artists planned for the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center," Lineberry said. "The current exhibition, 'The Good Making of Good Things,' will continue into early September and is an investigation of the crucial role of the publication Craft Horizons in supporting innovations in studio craft in the 20th century and building a community of artist, collectors, scholars and enthusiasts." 

According to the event description for "The Good Making of Good Things," the exhibition pairs Craft Horizon magazine features on artists with their work from the ASU Art Museum collection. 

"The exhibition pairs issues of the magazine with objects in ceramics, glass and fiber from our collection which animate this history," Lineberry said. "Then in the fall we will be presenting an exhibition from our Encounter series, where we invite artists and scholars to curate exhibitions from our collection, bringing fresh perspectives and new ways of looking at and thinking about the objects." 

Johnson was scheduled to lead the Curator Chat event for "The Making of Good Things" on April 18, but ASU Art Museum Curator of Education Andrea Feller will now be leading the tour and discussion instead.

 This story will be updated as more information becomes available. 

Editor's note: Due to a sourcing error, a previous version of this article stated that Johnson made the decision not to renew his contract when the decision was the museum's. This article has been updated to clarify this change.

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