Clayblazers exhibition highlights female artists who shaped the ceramics field

The exhibition features the work of women ceramicists from the 50s, 60s and 70s

Many female artists in the contemporary ceramics field spent their lives devoting themselves to becoming masters of their craft, but what one exhibition at ASU hopes to highlight is how these women also molded the art form as it exists today.

Clayblazers, an ongoing exhibition at the ASU Art Museum, aims to celebrate the dedication and strength women in the ceramics field during the mid-20th century have had to maintain through history. 

The exhibition, which is currently open to the public, features over one hundred ceramics pieces from female artists whose careers began in the 50s, 60s and 70s. 

Mary-Beth Buesgen, a curator of the exhibition and the program specialist for the ASU Ceramics Research Center and Brickyard Facility, said that the pieces were selected from the University's permanent collection of ceramics, which contains over 3,800 objects. 

Read more: A look into ASU Art Museum's permanent collection

Buesgen said some of the best ceramicists of their time are featured in the exhibition, such as Maija Grotell, who is considered by some as the mother of American ceramics. 

"All these women have some sort of story to show," Buesgen said. "It might not have been easy for them, but they persevered and really made a name for women in ceramics."

She added that many of the featured artists were also educators and mentors. 

Late Arizona artist Susan Peterson shared her expertise in ceramics in a variety of ways during her life, including through being an educator and author, Buesgen said. 

Clips from Peterson's instructional ceramics television series can be viewed at Clayblazers, along with her own artistic pieces. 

Susan Beiner, a professor of ceramics in the School of Art, said that artists like Ruth Duckworth, Toshiko Takaezu and Betty Woodman, who are all featured in the exhibition, were some of the leading artists that helped to elevate ceramics from craft to art. 

"At the time, there really weren't many women in ceramics," Beiner said. "It really was mostly men. So I think for people today, even students and women who are in the field, those women continue to be role models for all of us."

Nowadays, women's work is much less overlooked, she said, which is a testament to significance of these female artists from the mid-20th century. 

Jamila Stacy, a senior majoring in ceramics and the president of the Clay Club at ASU, recently visited the exhibition and said that she was happy to see women artists getting recognition in a field where they've played a crucial role all along.

"During my time here, I think women are very prevalent in the field of ceramics," Stacy said. "But it's still very male-dominated, especially when it comes to certain techniques like wood-fire process."

Stacy said that there are plenty of opportunities for artists to establish themselves in the field of ceramics through artist residencies and networking events. 

"The opportunities are more likely to come your way when you have a good attitude and you're putting yourself out there," she said.

Buesgen said that in addition to learning how women artists met their challenges to become successful in ceramics, she hopes people who attend Clayblazers will also recognize that ASU's Ceramics Research Center has a treasure of ceramics collections and archive materials that students can utilize.

The Clayblazers exhibition at the ASU Art Museum will be open to the public from now until Aug. 10.

Reach the reporter at or follow @MarissaWhitey on Twitter. 

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.



This website uses cookies to make your expierence better and easier. By using this website you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie Policy.