While on the surface the terms "cyberspace" and "ceramics" appear to be dissimilar, we now live in a time where these seemingly diverse areas can merge together and present us with options not thought of in the past. While it is certainly not meant to become a replacement for traditional exhibitions, it may serve as an appropriate vehicle to showcase the work of ceramists from diverse geographic and cultural backgrounds without the problems relating to the time for which an exhibition runs as well as the distance needed to travel in order to see a particular show.
This exhibition is the concept of both Richard Burkett from San Diego State University and Joe Molinaro from Eastern Kentucky University. In the summer of 1992, Joe Molinaro created the LISTSERV list Clayart which began as an effort to pull together ceramists from around the world and offer an avenue for the daily discussion s of ceramic related information via the Internet. Because of the rural location of eastern Kentucky, this vehicle, the Internet, seemed most appropriate for gathering ceramists together since individual location was not an obstacle for interaction. Clayart began slowly, but soon other ceramists learned of this service and were quick to learn ways to take full advantage of this new service. In a short two and one half years, Clayart has grown to a membership of over 1100 participants from 24 countries. Information on ceramics from glazes, clays, firings, kilns, exhibition, aesthetics, show opportunities, jobs, workshops, etc., are now discussed on regular basis, and in many cases, new friendships are found and nurtured. The success of Clayart is evidence on how willing ceramic artists are to learn and participate in the new electronic age.
At the same time, Richard Burkett, author of Hyperglaze (a computer-based glaze program for the studio ceramist) worked to establish the first gopher site (the ceramics gopher) at San Diego State University. This site was set up to serve the needs of those having access to the Internet and provides a storage site of ceramic related information. In the beginning, the Clayart archives were housed there along with a small sampling of glaze recipes and technical information used by those teaching in ceramic programs from around the world. Since that time, the ceramics gopher has grown to also include articles on ceramics history, health and safety information, material data, supplier information and much more. This ceramic source has quickly grown to become a vital service for both the discussions on Clayart as well as a link to a wide array of information on ceramics which can be accessed easily by any clay artist having the proper electronic connections.
As these two services began to demonstrate benefits to the owners, it became apparent that the ceramics community on a whole might be well poised to venture into yet another arena of the electronic age, thus the concept of the Virtual Ceramics Exhibit. With the aid of the World Wide Web and its access to both text and photos, the idea of organizing an exhibition where ceramic artist might enter into a juried show (in the same manner artists enter more traditional exhibits, i.e., slides, resumes, etc.) quickly became a reality. The concept was put together over the summer of 1994 with a call for entries during the autumn of that same year. There was a healthy response with 189 entrants (nearly 500 slides from which to choose), of which 49 artists were accepted for the show. What you now have before you in this exhibition is the final efforts of both the organizers and the jurors. It is the hope of the organizers that this exhibit provides you with a thought provoking and visually stimulating experience, one that serves as only the beginning of what is sure to become a more common vehicle for viewing ceramic artwork into the future. Again, it is not meant to suggest that more traditional style exhibits need be replaced, but rather provides a way to expand how one accesses the works of ceramists from around the world. The comments from you, the viewer, are needed in order to more fully understand how well this format serves all of us in the arts community, and for this reason, we encourage you to respond to the guest book on the top level in order to know your thoughts.
The organizers of the Virtual Ceramics Exhibit wish to thank several people for their support and work with making this exhibition a reality. The jurors, Bill Hunt and Janet Mansfield, are to be commended for the careful consideration they gave the jurying process. The final selection of pieces cover a wide array of styles and philosophies as they relate the contemporary clay work. While many strong pieces were eliminated during the selection process, all of those selected for the show received approval by both jurors. Through the Internet, issues relating to judging and procedure were easily discussed with both the jurors and organizers. The fact that each person involved with the VCE lived in a different geographical area (and even in another country) were no hindrance with the structuring of this new type of exhibition.
In addition, we wish to thank Mary Molinaro, Assistant Director of Libraries for Computing Facilities at the University of Kentucky and the University of Kentucky Computing Services for the technical assistance and use of the computing labs. Tim Glotzbach, Associate Professor of Art/Eastern Kentucky University for his assistance with the recording of entries and the sorting of slides. The Art Department of Eastern Kentucky University for their assistance with postage and handling for all the VCE announcements and notifications.
Lastly, the organizers of the Virtual Ceramics Exhibit wish to thank all of the artists who participated in this first venture of using the Internet as a gallery space for exhibiting clay work. Having the desire to be part of this new frontier, along with the faith that it can become a viable option for viewing clay work, is a shared quality of all those who took the time to participate in the exhibition. It is our hope that this exhibit represents the ceramic community well and will serve as a model of what is possible when we collaborate with the new technologies of our time.
Associate Professor of Art
Eastern Kentucky University
Associate Professor ofArt
San Diego State University