Celebrated ceramics exhibition connects art lovers to 17,000 years of civilization
MACON, GEORGIA – FEBRUARY, 2015 – More than 15,000 years ago, the hands of peoples living near the banks of the Ocmulgee River dug into the damp earth for the rich deposits of mineral clay below. They used clay to create vessels and utensils needed for their everyday activities, as well as ornaments and decorative objects adorned with effigies of humans and animals. Unearthed urns and bowls in a variety of shapes and sizes and decorated with geometric stamps and etchings are on display today at Macon’s Ocmulgee National Monument, the protected lands where these ancient cultures lived and worshipped long before Europeans began establishing colonies here. In fact, one of the continent’s richest sites for early Native American artifacts is the area around the Ocmulgee National Monument, where the oldest piece of stamped pottery ever found in North America was discovered. Today, potters around the world prefer Georgia’s clay, whether deep red in color or “white gold” kaolin, creating works of art both functional and decorative out of the very same earth as the people who lived here in the Southeast thousands of years ago.
Featuring nine days of lectures, workshops, and interactive experiences for both adults and children, the 10th Annual Fired Works Regional Ceramics Exhibition and Sale, April 11-19, 2015, in Macon’s Central City Park, about 90 miles south of Atlanta, is a celebration of the rich history of ceramics-making in the vicinity of Middle Georgia’s Ocmulgee River. What began as a local pottery show and celebration of the area’s heritage will feature more than 6,000 pieces of pottery by 65 ceramic artists from Georgia and the Southeast – the state’s largest annual show and sale of functional and sculptural pottery.
The purpose of the exhibition, which began as a local pottery show, is to promote the rich history of pottery in Georgia and its connection to the Ocmulgee River Region, as well as to provide a platform for local and regional artists. In partnership with Ocmulgee National Monument, it also serves to connect visitors and residents with the history of their home and its earliest inhabitants.
Since the very beginnings of human civilization, baked clay has played a fundamental role in our development of society. Our first attempts at written language are stamped onto clay tablets.
“The building bones of our very history as humans are made with clay,” says Heatherly Wakefield, director of Fine Art for the Macon Arts Alliance and curator of Fired Works. “Mythology suggests humans were made from clay, and many advancements in civilization could not have been made without the material.”
Wakefield, an artist herself, exudes enthusiasm and awe when talking about the subject and this celebration of it. Tying together past and present, thousands of pieces of ceramic art will be displayed and sold only a stone’s throw from the Ocmulgee Old Fields, where prehistoric potters were making earthenware vessels from the same clay many millennia ago. In conjunction with the show, the Monument will feature examples of that prehistoric Native American pottery in its exhibit area.
This year, Fired Works’ opening weekend hosts a fun Preview Party the night before opening day, offering ticket holders the chance to meet and mingle with the artists and have first pick of the shopping before the rest of the public. Also on opening weekend, a Pottery Road Show offers the chance to bring in treasures for professional appraisers to estimate the value and discover the history of pottery pieces from personal collections. These and other, exclusive, events are offered throughout the weekend in a packaged weekend getaway April 10-12. The Earth, Wine and Fire weekend includes attendance at the Fired Works Preview Party, an exclusive Sip & Spin pottery workshop, an elegant farm-to-table feast prepared by an award-winning chef and enjoyed on the grounds of the Ocmulgee National Monument, reserved seats at a performance of the Macon Pops Jazz Orchestra, and attendance at the Pottery Road Show. Package rates for the opening weekend are available at the Fired Works website, www.FiredWorksMacon.com.