The Birmingham Museum of Art is proud to present the third Bunting Biennial Ceramics Symposium this weekend. In conjunction with the 32nd annual Alabama Clay Conference, this free event brings ceramic artists and experts to the Museum.
Acclaimed ceramic artist Susan Folwell will join us as the keynote speaker on Friday. She has received numerous awards for her work, which is represented in well over a dozen permanent museum collections world-wide. Folwell is also an active board member of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA) and is chair of the SWAIA Arts Committee. We caught up with the artist between studio time for a quick Q&A.
Birmingham Museum of Art: As a ceramic artist from Santa Clara Pueblo, you are carrying forward a great legacy. How much does the history of Santa Clara pottery inform your work?
Susan Folwell: It lives at the root of my work to this day. I may experiment with different surface materials and continue exploring my artistic expression, but I believe in upholding the traditional process of gathering and processing the clay. I think it’s important for younger generations to know this, as well. It’s a way to keep connected to your people and your family. I lived in Tucson, Arizona for 15 years before I moved back to New Mexico last year. Coming back to Santa Clara to dig clay all those years with family members and taking it back to Arizona to work with made me feel like I never really left home.
SF: I will start the talk with a brief history of the surrounding area (my village) I grew up in and my family and some family history as it all ties into not only a ceramic revolution in the pueblos, but how that has shaped me and my work. I will also show images of my work and the progression of it over the years.