Vessels Aplenty: The Joan Tweedy Memorial Exhibition

Vessels Aplenty: The Joan Tweedy exhibition

Vessels Aplenty
March 18-April 16
Reception, April 12, 6-9 pm
UNC Charlotte Center City
320 E. 9th Street

The work of Professor Emerita Joan Tweedy (1948-2014) embodies the exploration of the vessel form prominent in contemporary ceramics these past 40 years. Joan had an outstanding teaching career at UNC Charlotte and a deep commitment to her studio art and to the advancement of the ceramics field. With the donation of a large collection of her work to the Department of Art & Art History, the Vessels Aplenty exhibition at UNC Charlotte Center City's Projective Eye Gallery is both a memorial retrospective and an opportunity to support the UNC Charlotte Department of Art & Art History, which Joan cared so deeply about. All proceeds from the sale of her work will be used to support student programming.

Online Sales are now closed. Please join us for the reception and sale April 12.

Harris Teeter logoFor generations Harris-Teeter has made financial contributions to organizations to create a better quality of life. Harris-Teeter has generously offered to help UNC Charlotte’s Department of Art & Art History by offering a sales challenge to benefit the University’s Jamil Niner Food Pantry. We thank Harris Teeter for supporting students with this additional support worth up to $2000.00 of food donations.


Joan Tweedy/ Teacher and Artist (1948-2014)
by Mike Vatalaro
Professor Emeritus of Art/Ceramics
Clemson University

Joan Tweedy enjoyed the respect and appreciation of the clay community with whom she worked in the Southeast as well as in national arenas. Her art deserves inclusion in both the regional and national representation of the clay movement of the 20th century. Her work serves as an elegant record of the exploration and expansion of the vessel form within the fine art materials movement in the United States.

Joan TweedyJoan Tweedy, a Pittsburgh native, completed her BFA in Ceramics from Syracuse University in 1970 and her MFA in Ceramics at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1975. The energies surrounding clay and Alfred University in the 1970s reflected a robust and expansive movement of American ceramic art. The transition saw the clay vessel form emerge as an individual artistic expression, freed from its traditionally utilitarian or functional role. Joan and her classmates pushed the limits of the materials, forms and conceptual references of their time. Joan developed her unique, characteristic expression during this time, throwing very thin elegant forms which recorded not only the movement of the wheel but also marks, tears in the clay, anomalies in the symmetry which revealed both the strength and vulnerability of clay. She was also one of the pioneers in reviving the use of Terra Sigellata, a surface treatment used on classical Greek pottery. Hyper-sensitive to kiln atmospheres, Terra Sigellata captures fleeting smoke from the sawdust firings—creating patterns which further supported the undulations of Joan’s clay forms. The resulting works have a sensuous atmospheric presence which infers both landscape and sky scape.

Throughout her career, working almost exclusively with the bowl form, her vessels continued to include several different firing and glazing techniques. She fired porcelain works at high temperatures and finished them with salt or soda, creating an elegant and understated eggshell-like surface. She also worked extensively with earthenware at lower temperatures, utilizing a satin black or dark blue glaze to enhance the sensuous surface movement of the piece. Although utility was not a focus in the bowl forms, Joan enjoyed the happenstance when the sculptural forms additionally enjoyed a limited usage, such as for displaying select foods or objects.

Joan TweedyJoan was as thorough and professional a teacher as she was an artist. She taught at Kansas State University, The University of Oklahoma, and Southern Illinois University before establishing her tenure at UNC Charlotte. Devoted to her students, she insisted on broadening their outlook and understanding of art. She was active in the National Conference on Ceramic Art (NCECA), an organization that supports students, teachers, and professional ceramic artists. Joan also initiated several grants to bring focused exhibitions of national stature to UNC Charlotte. 

Joan’s work is of national quality and has a strategic place within the development of contemporary ceramics during the late 20th century. The significance of that ceramics movement, within which Joan’s work fits solidly, should not be underestimated. Clay, glass, wood, and fiber expanded into the world of contemporary art during that time and continue to have an important impact on today’s art and culture.