“Women Working in Clay” and “State of G/Race” by Sapphire and Crystals

State of G/Race Opening

State of G/Race Opening on November 9, 2012

20 Years Strong: Women Working in Clay | Sapphire and Crystals: State of G/Race | November 9 – December 23, 2012

In celebration of WMG’s 20th Anniversary, we are hosting two fabulous exhibitions: “State of G/Race” with work by Sapphire and Crystals, a collective of professional African American women artists in Chicago, and “20 Years Strong: Women Working in Clay” on display at the lower level of the Gallery.

"Women Working in Clay" Opening with Gail Holmberg, Linda Hillman and Joan Friedberger in front of Virginia Scotchie's ceramic wall installation.

“Women Working in Clay” Opening with Gail Holmberg, Linda Hillman and Joan Friedberger in front of Virginia Scotchie’s ceramic wall installation.

20 Years Strong: Women Working in Clay includes work by 21 clay artists from all over the U.S. The show demonstrates the varied and powerful contributions women ceramic artists make to the art world. Entries were curated by Linda Hillman, a ceramics artist who holds a B.A. in Art and Art History, a M.S. in Visual Communication from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and a M.S. in Applied Linguistics from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

In her curatorial statement, Linda Hillman writes: “My vision has been to showcase the conceptual strength, beauty, and skill women demonstrate in their ceramic work—the contemporary vessel, the quotidian pot, sculpture, and figuration. It is a big goal and women’s contributions to the art world are wider than this show can accommodate. However, ‘Women Working in Clay’ is a tribute to women who have forged a place for themselves and others in ceramics.

”Included are ceramic works by Mary Barringer, Meredith Brickell, Linda Christianson, Anne Currier, Andrea Gill, Silvie Granatelli, Jan McKeachie Johnston, Gail Kendall, Eva Kwong, Winnie Owens-Hart, Donna Polseno, Angelica Pozo, Liz Quackenbush, Annabeth Rosen, Virginia Scotchie, Ellen Shankin, Linda Sikora, Sandy Simon, Susanne Stephenson, Jerilyn Virden, and Paula Colton Winokur.

A State of G/Race is a group exhibition  featuring art by Sapphire and Crystals, a collective of professional African American women artists in Chicago who are celebrating their 25th Anniversary. It includes new art work addressing the theme, and a collaborative altar installation.

"State of G/Race" OpeningJoyce Owens (right) with Shyvette Williams

“State of G/Race” Opening
Joyce Owens (right) with Shyvette Williams

Conceived initially by Marva Pitchford Jolly and Felicia Grant Preston, the idea that women artists of African descent produce their own shows resulted in the collective’s first exhibition at the historic South Side Community Art Century (SSCAC) in 1987, with the second exhibition following at Nicole Gallery in Chicago’s River North in 1988. Throughout its 25 year history Sapphire and Crystals has held exhibitions at many galleries and art centers within the city and beyond. The individual personal work by each member addressing various themes such as race and gender, limited palettes, and honoring their pasts, exemplifies the diversity within the group. The signature self-portrait silent auction takes bids during the opening reception and presents affordable collecting opportunities for visitors on the first night only. The collaborative site-specific altar installation is an exhibit feature distinct to this collective.

Curator, Joyce Owens earned a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. A professor of painting and drawing at Chicago State University, she also curates for the two on-campus galleries. Owens has been sought out to jury fine art exhibitions and art fairs at the Museum of Science and Industry, The DuSable Museum, the Women’s Caucus for Art and The Wells Street Art Fair to name a few. Owens serves on the Advisory Committee for the Department of Cultural Affair’s Chicago Artists Month since 2002. She consults with the Chicago Artists Coalition, and is on the Advisory Board of Woman Made Gallery. Owens is an associate editor for The Journal of African American History.

Included are works in a variety of media by Rose Blouin, Makeba Kedem Dubose, Juarez Hawkins, Renee Williams Jefferson, Marva Pitchford Jolly, Joyce Owens, Felicia Grant Preston, Joanne Scott, Patricia Stewart, Dorian Sylvain, Shirley J. Sullivan, Pearlie Taylor, Arlene Turner-Crawford, Rhonda Wheatley, Shahar Caren Weaver, and Shyvette Williams.

Sapphire and Crystals will be hosting a special event on December 15th from 12 to 5 p.m. which includes a fine art sale and a film screening in honor and memory of Marva Jolly who recently passed away. Mudpeoples: A Portrait of Clay Artist Marva Jolly, by Shuli Eshel will be shown at 2:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.


During the opening reception on November 9th I had the pleasure of viewing amazing art by so many talented individuals, individuals that you would be proud to know. These women show incredible diversity and integrity in their work. I can only hope to one day be as established and accomplished as they are.

"State of G/Race" Openingwith artwork by Patricaa Stewart

“State of G/Race” Opening
with artwork by Patricia Stewart

-Lola Ogbara, Gallery Intern

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