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The Women Working with Clay Symposium, founded in 2011 at Hollins University, marks its 10th year in 2020. In commemoration of this milestone, The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum and symposium founder Donna Polseno have organized a retrospective exhibition. Featuring work by each of the 50 artists who have presented at the symposium, the exhibition celebrates the stories, memories and accomplishments of women in the field of ceramics.

The women involved in this event have been invited from a wide cross section of ages, stages of career, race, cultures, and discipline. Each artist brings a story of incredible awareness to their individual and communal history, shared by a passion for working with clay. Exhibiting the soulful work of such a large number of diverse women artists sets a stage for a powerful statement about what is possible and positive.


The artworks speak to deeply personal experiences in life, emanating from each artist’s story and differing approaches to the material of clay, with historical or cultural references adding one layer to another. Some of the ideas and topics that will find expression through this exhibition include the following:


• the idea of depicting the most unguarded and vulnerable states of being

• the retelling of folktales, fables and myths

• the far-reaching impact of the history of colonialism and slavery, cultural 

   marginality and feelings of displacement for immigrants

• the creation of objects for sacred spaces

• meaningful connections to the natural world and concern for its demise

• the beauty and poignancy of the inclusion of handmade objects in daily life

• the fragile and precarious nature of life itself


This exhibition, like the symposium, will open up a space where creative ideas, current stories, and old memories are shared and supported. Inspiration for the future is everywhere.


The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue.