Clay Center’s holiday show returns with hundreds of pieces |

Clay Center’s holiday show returns with hundreds of pieces

Bryan Hopkins
Jessica Cabe / Post Independent |


What: Holiday Invitational and Sale opening reception

When: 6-8 p.m. on Friday (on display through Dec. 18)

Where: Carbondale Clay Center

How much: Free

With about 30 local and national artists sending around 250 pieces, the Holiday Invitational and Sale has the largest inventory of any annual exhibition at the Carbondale Clay Center.

The show is so large, in fact, that the Clay Center’s gallery can’t hold all the work. So for the fourth year in a row, the exhibit will be augmented by artist Alleghany Meadows’ ArtStream Nomadic Gallery.

“Not only is it a nationally recognized mobile gallery, but it also extends our own gallery,” said Matt Eames, interim director and resident artist at the Clay Center.

The ArtStream Nomadic Gallery is an Airstream trailer that’s been converted into a gallery. It travels the country and goes to the NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) conference, one of the most important annual events for the national ceramic community. It’s shiny, it’s unique, and it’s just plain unexpected, so it tends to draw people into the Clay Center when it’s parked on the front lawn for the month-and-a-half duration of the Holiday Invitational and Sale.

The gallery itself is intriguing, but all the work in the show creates one of the most varied exhibits of the year for the Clay Center. Artists from across the country send pieces, but the majority of the work comes from locals.

Eames is included on that list. He has a variety of functional wares for sale that utilize the same architectural style as his installations and sculptures. For the first time, his pots include wood and metal elements to really drive home that structural influence.

Eames said the point of the holiday sale, more than any other Clay Center exhibit, is to provide buying options for those shopping for gifts. For that reason, most of the work is functional, and all of it is varied. It would be hard to walk into the show without finding something for everyone, he said.

And handmade ceramic wares make for great gifts for a few reasons, according to the artists.

“They’re much more personal, and they tend to have a spirit and a vitality that you won’t find in mass-produced objects,” said Collette Spears, a new Carbondale Clay Center resident artist.

“I feel like if you buy something from the big box stores, it can be kind of ubiquitous,” said Rain Harris, a Kansas City, Missouri, artist who submitted collaborative work with her husband, Paul Donnelly. “With a handmade object, even if it’s part of a series, they still have their own quirks.”

“The person who’s buying has to really consider the tastes of the person they’re buying for, so therefore the purchase is a lot more personal,” said Bryan Hopkins, an artist from Buffalo, New York. “It’s also good for people that are making the objects to know their work means something to someone.”

“I think the value comes in knowing it is custom and unique,” said Matthew Hyleck, an artist from Baltimore, Maryland, “and it’s coming from one individual’s vision of what will make the daily ritual of eating or drinking a little more pleasant, a little more personal.”

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