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USU's NEHMA Presents Vision and Persistence: 30 Years of Ceramic Excellence

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016

ceramic jars from USU's museum exhibit Vision and Persistence: 30 Years of Ceramic Excellence

Forrest Lesch-Middleton, 'Jar and Four Minaret Bottles,' 2015, stoneware. Image courtesy the artist.

Utah State University’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA) presents “Vision and Persistence: 30 Years of Ceramic Excellence,” a survey of more than 50 works created by artists who graduated or taught in the university’s ceramics program in the Department of Art and Design in the Caine College of the Arts over the last 30 years. The exhibition opened Tuesday, Feb. 2, and runs through Wednesday, March 2.

In conjunction with “Vision and Persistence,” USU ceramics students will demonstrate and talk about a variety of ceramic techniques during Family Art Days at the museum Saturday, Feb. 20. Sessions will be offered at the museum, as well as in the adjacent ceramics studio in the Department of Art and Design every hour beginning at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. with the last session occurring at 2 p.m. Space is limited and will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Sketching and other observational techniques may be done while waiting, or as self-guided activities.

“USU’s ceramics program is internationally recognized for its commitment to excellence and the reputation of its alumni, who have established successful careers across the nation and around the world,” said Rebecca A. Dunham, curator of collections and exhibitions at NEHMA. “‘Vision and Persistence’ showcases a cross section of these artists and furthers the legacy of the program.”

“Vision and Persistence” is also a tribute to USU art professors John Neely and Dan Murphy, both of whom have played pivotal roles in developing the ceramics program and who have cultivated a respected program that celebrates ceramics through an understanding of the history of the medium and an emphasis on craftsmanship, Dunham said.

Neely began teaching at USU in 1984 and became department head for the Department of Art and Design in 2003. In 2013, Neely received the D. Wayne Thorne Research Award, the highest research award presented by the university, in recognition of his ongoing investigations as both an artist and scientist into the technology and chemistry of clay, glaze and kiln firing. Neely was the first art faculty member to receive the prestigious honor, which traditionally is awarded to scholars in science and engineering.

Murphy joined the Department of Art and Design in 2003. His knowledge and expertise with wood-burning kilns has given him the opportunity to exhibit and present at wood-fire conferences and build kilns across the globe. Murphy was also the recipient of the Researcher of the Year and Artist of the Year awards from USU’s former College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and recently received the award for Graduate Advisor of the Year in the Caine College of the Arts.

Throughout the years, Neely and Murphy have been assisted by a series of ceramics studio coordinators, including Nick Bonner, Trevor Dunn, Ted Neal, Brad Schwieger and Wil Shynkaruk, all of whom went on to launch academic careers. Under the mentorship of Neely, Murphy and the studio coordinators, USU ceramics students have left the program as professionals, taking with them the tools and skills necessary to lead productive and meaningful careers.

“Vision and Persistence” was co-organized by Dunham and Todd Hayes, ceramics studio coordinator for the Department of Art and Design at USU. NEHMA is the first venue for “Vision and Persistence;” the exhibition will travel and be displayed concurrently with the 50th Anniversary Conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) in Kansas City, Missouri, from March 16-19.

The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting modern and contemporary visual art to promote dialogue about ideas fundamental to contemporary society. NEHMA provides meaningful engagement with art from the 20th and 21st centuries to support the educational mission of USU, in Logan, Utah and offers complementary public programs such as lectures, panels, tours, concerts and symposia to serve the university and regional community. Admission is free and open to the public. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment. Visit the NEHMA website for more information

Contact: Katie Lee Koven, executive director and chief curator for USU’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art,; 435-797-0164

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