Two schools of pottery take over Philadelphia

    About 7,000 potters have descended on Philadelphia for a weekend conference of ceramics educators. Many of them are torn between attending seminars, or seeing the nearly 100 art exhibits focusing on ceramics all over the city.

    About 7,000 potters have descended on Philadelphia for a weekend conference of ceramics educators. Many of them are torn between attending seminars, or seeing the nearly 100 art exhibits focusing on ceramics all over the city.

    Potters are adventurous conventioneers, moving beyond Reading Terminal and scattering all throughout Philadelphia, ducking into participating galleries and museums. Many galleries, like this storefront craft and jewelry space at 9th and South, are seeing more foot-traffic than ever.

    Most of these artists make unique, often quirky, one-of-a-kind pieces, not factory-produced sets of identically designed wares. Curator Jody Clowes from the University of Wisconsin-Madison says historically there has been a rift between the two styles.

    Clowes: After WWII there was a huge philosophical split in crafts. Product design became materialists and corporate. There was a rejection of that – a morally principled stance. That’s a huge generalization – but it was very influential.

    Clowes says in recent years that split has narrowed as more individual studio potters use digital design software and industrial techniques in that work. But the divide is still reflected in marketing – Clowes says artists tend to sell at high prices in galleries, while designers sell at lower prices in stores.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.