Visiting Scholar Lecture with Nancy M. Servis


Tuesday, November 7, 2017, 6:00pm to 7:00pm


Ceramics Program, 224 Western Avenue, Allston, MA 02134

Presented by: Ceramics ProgramRon Nagel, Lobster Cup

State of Clay: Bay Area Ceramics by Nancy M. Servis

This lecture is free and open to the public, but seats are limited. To register, please RSVP here or email Kathy King, Director of Education at

From pottery to sculptural expression, Nancy M. Servis unveils the dynamic variety of ceramics found in Northern California. Long recognized as a vital and populous state with extensive clay deposits, California has been the home of refined vessel-makers and artistic rule-breakers for over 75 years, particularly in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her image-illustrated presentation, State of Clay: Bay Area Ceramics contextualizes clay's extensive use that includes stylistic architecture in Oakland, impassioned potters like Antonio Prieto and Marguerite Wildenhain from the 1950s, and unabashed practicitioners like Peter Voulkos and Robert Arneson. They, along with select others like Viola Frey, Ruth Rippon, and Ron Nagle laid the Nancy Servisgroundwork for what exists today - a population of fine artist-makers whose work coexists with those who embrace sculpture or even defy ceramic tradtiion. Nancy's one-hour presentation will trace these varied ceramic developments, highlighting a spectrum of groundbreaking and currently practicing artists all of whom have contributed to the pluralistic richness of California clay. Image Shown (Right): Ron Nagle, Lobster Boy, 1999. Credit: Unknown.


Nancy M. Servis, from Sacramento, California is a recognized art historian, gallerist, and author having served as curator, educator and arts administrator in the greater San Francisco Bay Area for over twenty years. She developed expertise in contemporary ceramics through years of curation and research in association with the California Conference for the Advancement of Ceramic Art in Davis, CA; and the development of the original course, A Century of Northern California Ceramics that she taught for six years at the California College of the Arts, Oakland. Much of her curatorial work includes original catalogue essays. Recent publications include: The Ceramic Pot Shop at UC Berkeley, 1959-1964; John Toki: A Life That Is More Than Clay; Local Treasures: Bay Area Ceramics; Wanxin Zhang: Innovation in Ceramic Sculpture; Stephen De Staebler - The Sculptor's Way; Contemporary Studio Ceramics: The Dauer Collection; and The Eve Aesthetic: Contemporary Figurative Clay Sculpture by Artists from TB-9. Published artist monographs include: Bill Abright - Mining Meaning; Alan Osborne - Expressionist Enamels; Danae Mattes - The Sibyl Series, Donna Billick, and René Martucci.

Also, Nancy's writings have been featured in the art periodicals Ceramics: Art and Perception, Ceramics Monthly, the NCECA Journal, Neue Keramik and Studio Potter. Recent articles include: Ruth Rippon: Her Story; Innovations In California Clay; James Melchert: Works of Resonance; Jun Kaneko: Beyond Sculptural Boundaries; Erna Aaltonen: Nostaligia; and Ceramics Excellence: Fellowships at the Archie Bray Foundation, 2013-2014.

Images: Top to Bottom: Nancy M. Servis; Bowl by Antonio Prieto, ca. 1960, Private Collection. Credit: Cory Yeaton; Bean Finneran, Circular sculpture, ca. 2009. Credit: Nancy M. Servis; Tom Rippon sculptures. Credit: Diana Jahns.