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Clay Conference brings large crowds

Troy University hosted the 25th Annual Alabama Clay Conference over the weekend and, by all accounts, the conference was deemed a great success.

The conference presenters were nationally and internationally acclaimed clay artists, Juan Quezada, Lana Wilson, Marko Fields and Brian Nettles. More than 350 clay art enthusiasts came to watch the masters at work and ask questions.

Larry Percy, Troy University art professor, chaired the conference. Pam Allen, associate professor of art and design, said everyone in the art department was extremely proud of Percy and the success of the conference.

“Larry did a great job of coordinating the conference and, Georgine Clarke,

Alabama State Council on the Arts visual arts program manager, did an outstanding job of putting everything together,” Allen said. “We had a near record crowd and everyone said they enjoyed it tremendously.”

The workshops were at the Trojan Center Theater with two clay artists at work at each session.

“Two projectors were set up and there were large screens behind the clay artists,” Allen said. “The audience could sit and watch the artists produce pots, which were thrown on the wheel or produced by the coil process. As the artists worked they talked about the process of their work. They were engaged with the audience by microphone, and the audience could ask questions. One artist would talk while the other worked. It was an interesting presentation and a lot of fun.”

On Saturday night, the conference participants were invited to a soup party at the university amphitheater where Juan Quezada fired a pot on site.

“Everyone sat around, ate soup and watched him create a finished pot,” Allen said. “The entire conference was cozy and comfortable. There was a lot of camaraderie among the participants and they really seemed to enjoy themselves.”

From the vantage point of the Troy-Pike Cultural Arts Center, the Alabama Clay Conference exceeded all expectations, said Richard Metzger, executive director.

The Presenters Exhibition at the Johnson Center for the Arts featured the work of the four presenting clay artists, and the Center’s “Studio” was the site of a Friday night reception for the artists and clay art enthusiasts who participated in the three-day conference.

“From everything that I heard, the Clay Conference was well attended and a great success,” Metzger said.

“There were visitors here from as far away as Wisconsin, the tri-states and a lot of alumni. With 350 people here for the weekend, the conference was an economic driver for the community. During these economic times, partnering with other organizations for events is a benefit to all involved.”

Guadalupe Robinson, a stoneware artist, said he has been attending Alabama Clay Conferences for many years and the Silver Anniversary edition at Troy University was “awesome.”

“It couldn’t have been any better,” he said.