AMOCA Announces opening of new exhibit: Breaking Ground: Women in California Clay

Crystal Morey, The RePlanting, 2021. Porcelain. 12.5 x 8 x 6 inches.

(Pomona, CA–July 25, 2022) Breaking Ground: Women in California Clay, opening September 10, 2022 at the American Museum of Ceramic Art, celebrates 44 artists who have defined—and redefined—ceramics over the past 100 years. A momentous reframing of the California Clay Movement and its legacy, this exhibition will be the first to chronologize the evolution of ceramic art in California solely through the work of women artists, and the first exhibition to be presented across all three of AMOCA’s ground-floor galleries (8,800 square-feet).

Executive Director Beth Ann Gerstein commented, “We are grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts, California Humanities, Center for Craft, Boardman Family Foundation, and the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture for their critical support in making this exhibition possible. Assembled together for the first time, the works in Breaking Ground can now tell the compelling story of how women artists from California have made, and continue to make, significant contributions to the American Studio Ceramics movement.”

Adjunct curator Jo Lauria explains, “Breaking Ground, or groundbreaking, describes innovational, novel, inventive, creative, or disruptive actions. The remainder of the title functions as a filtering mechanism: the groundbreakers are women who have resided in California and whose stories are framed through the lens of their association with clay.”

Exhibition Overview

Breaking Ground highlights the significant shifts in California ceramics over several generations of women artists. The story is told in three sections, using each artist’s “breaking ground period” to determine their place in history. The first chapter includes Laura Andreson, Betty Davenport Ford, Stefanie Gruenberg, Vivika Heino, Elaine Katzer, Mary Lindheim, Martha Longenecker, Gertrud Natzler, Susan Peterson, Ruth Rippon, Susi Singer, Helen Ritcher Watson, Marguerite Wildenhain, and Beatrice Wood. These artists laid the groundwork for the field and inspired successive generations of artists.

The second chapter includes works by a disparate group of artists who explore the female figure, feminism, and the creation of the perfect form: Judy Chicago, Dora De Larios, Roseline Delisle, Viola Frey, Magdalena Suarez Frimkess, Phyllis Green, Margaret Keelan, Karen Koblitz, Marilyn Levine, Elsa Rady, Lisa Reinertson, Nancy Selvin, Anna Silver, and Sandy Simon. Works by these women mark a substantial break in artmaking from their predecessors.

The third chapter represents a younger generation of artists and includes Ashwini Bhat, Christina Erives, Keiko Fukazawa, Jenny Hata Blumenfield, Julia Haft-Candell, Anabel Juarez, Cathy Lu, Brittany Mojo, Crystal Morey, Kristen Morgin, Annabeth Rosen, Erika Sanada, Joan Takayama Ogawa, Kim Tucker, Anna Valdez, and Bari Ziperstein. Their work continues the conversation of other featured artists to traverse themes of politics, identity, the environment, and the prevailing issues of globalization, colonialism, and reclaiming histories that have become increasingly important in the lives of practicing women artists.

Breaking Ground: Women in California Clay celebrates singular acts of women ceramists and their breakthrough moments, which have altered the course of ceramics. 

Exhibition Credits

Breaking Ground is co-curated by Beth Ann Gerstein (Executive Director), Jo Lauria (Adjunct Curator), and Edith Garcia (Professor, California College of the Arts and University of California, Berkeley).

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog designed by Amy McFarland, featuring new essays by Jo Lauria, Elaine Olafson Henry, and Edith Garcia.

This exhibition is funded, in part, by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Humanities, the Pasadena Art Alliance, Boardman Foundation, and The LA County Department of Arts & Culture. 

The research for this project was supported by a Craft Research Fund grant from the Center for Craft.


Press: Genevieve Kaplan • • (909) 865-3146

Education and Coordinated Programming: Carly Lake-Irigoyen • • (909) 865-3146

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