By Blake Jones// Staff Writer
With recent budget cuts in education occurring throughout the entire country, many publicly funded schools have considered cutting their art programs. But a local art exhibition in Greensboro is working to remind North Carolina residents how important art education and appreciation are to cultural understanding and perception.
Greenhill and the North Carolina Pottery Center are currently exhibiting handmade pottery from Seagrove, North Carolina, which is known as the handmade pottery capital of the United States. The Evolution: Seagrove Pottery Exhibition is being held from Feb. 1 to Apr. 14 in the Greensboro Cultural Art Center, which is located on 200 N. Davie St. in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The exhibition is featuring ceramic art pieces created by many well-known local potters including Andrew Dutcher, David Fernandez, Hitomi Shibata, Takuro Shibata and Fred Johnston.
“Greenhill is doing more than just inviting artists to exhibit; we are also supporting our fellow art organizations in the state,” said Elizabeth Harry, a shop manager and registrar for the exhibition. “We are also working on creative ways to inspire and entertain younger generations.”
This goal is becoming increasingly crucial to studio art exhibition companies and cultural organizations throughout the United States. A study done by IMPACTS Research & Data found that while the majority of cultural art exhibition visitors are part of an older demographic, they are now being replaced by people from younger generations. The issue is that these younger generations are introducing new people at a slower rate than the rate in which others are leaving the cultural organization visitation market.
This trend reflects the mindsets of many students who are in their high school or college level education programs, but not all of these students are giving up on the cultural implications of art.
“Many of my friends really want to pursue the arts, but they don’t because so many people told them they won’t go anywhere,” said Grace Ann Letzinger, current HPU student.
This mindset seems to be paralleled by many other college students across the country, but Letzinger believes that the importance of art transcends the uncertainty.
“It allows people to express themselves in ways words never could,” said Letzinger.
Even with the impact that art has on cultural expression, job statistics give good reason as to why many college students are not pursuing the arts. A study by IBIS World found that businesses in the ceramics industry have decreased in number by 0.08 percent. This may seem small now, but industry marketing projections suggest that revenues in this industry will continue to decline in future years as foreign imports satisfy greater shares of domestic demand.
This statistic does not waver the confidence of Fred Johnston, a potter who has been active in the art community for over 30 years. He implements a technique known as “cross-fertilization” that focuses on mixing aspects of many different cultures, motifs, and styles to create art that has transcendent and lasting meaning.
“At the end of the day, it’s not the amount of money we make; it’s the art that we leave behind that defines our legacy and our culture,” said Johnston.
The Evolution: Seagrove Pottery event in Greensboro serves as a strong beacon to embody a quote by Johnston: “Styles and aesthetics change, but people’s notion of beauty and wanting something beautiful and meaningful will never go away.”
One of the many pieces presented at the event. This item was made by potter David Fernandez. Photo by Greenhillnc.org