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Clay National XVII displays diversity in clay

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The Carbondale Clay Center’s 17th annual Clay National show, “The Autobiography of the Object,” launched online on Aug. 21 and in-person on Sept. 1 with a First Friday reception. The show will run until Sept. 29.

The title and theme were created by the Clay Center’s selected juror, Sam Harvey, a ceramic artist who maintains a studio in Aspen. Harvey carefully selected pieces to ensure they exemplified the all-encompassing theme. According to studio and gallery manager Matt Eames, the title reflects the most accurate story that an artist can tell about their own lives.

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“[Harvey] wanted a title that would be particular to any artist,” Eames told The Sopris Sun. “It is about each individual’s voice and how our art leaves a mark through the pieces we create, and we each tell our story in some way.”

Eames also expressed his excitement about the pieces on display. “The Autobiography of the Object” features work from local, orbiting and international artists. In all, there are 22 artists featured, including current Clay Center resident artist Brian Chen, invited guest artist Eva Kwong, local artist Lauren Mayer, among many others. The results range from installations to functional pottery, standing sculptures and much more.

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“This is a show where we really highlight diversity in clay,” Eames explained.

Mayer, who has lived in the Valley for a year and began teaching at CMC last fall, said that her “love affair” with ceramics began when she was 16. She received an MFA from CU Boulder in 2009 and began her career as an associate professor of art at Colorado Mountain College in Aspen this year. Additionally, she has been the art gallery director for the campus.

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“It’s always wonderful to be able to take part in this national show, but also be a local at the same time,” Mayer said. “Carbondale Clay Center is such a huge part of the community, and I am thrilled to be displaying my work there.”

Discussing her work, Mayer stated that she tries to give the concept of time a physical representation. She draws inspiration from quantum physics, time travel and nature.

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“The main kind of work I show in galleries is more sculptural,” she said. “Recently I’ve been looking a lot to the landscape, like geologic time, on how you can see the layers of strata on a hillside and you’re looking at the history of the world.”

These layers and representations are captured in the two sculptures Mayer has on display and available for purchase at Clay National XVII. The pieces, titled “The History of the World on Your Sleeve” and ‘They Were Thresholds in a Timelike Curve,” are meant to represent the concept of accumulation over time, which Mayer says is akin to the mundaneness of everyday life.

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For more information on “The Autobiography of the Object,” gallery hours, or to purchase any of the available works, visit

Tags: #Carbondale Clay Center #ceramics #Clay National #Clay National XVII #Matt Eames #pottery #Sam Harvey
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