Alfred University News

Higby delivers keynote speech for 2020 IAC New Members Exhibition

Alfred University Ceramic Art Professor and ACAM Chief Curator Wayne Higby
Alfred University Ceramic Art Professor and ACAM Chief Curator Wayne Higby

Wayne Higby, Professor of Ceramic Art at Alfred University and the Wayne Higby Director and Chief Curator of the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum was keynote speaker for the opening of the 2020 International Academy of Ceramics New Members Exhibition and the International Ceramics Academic Forum held at the Guozhong Ceramic Art Museum, in Beijing, China, Nov 7.


Wayne Higby, Professor of Ceramic Art at Alfred University and the Wayne Higby Director and Chief Curator of the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum was keynote speaker for the opening of the 2020 International Academy of Ceramics New Members Exhibition and the International Ceramics Academic Forum held at the Guozhong Ceramic Art Museum, in Beijing, China, Nov 7.

 The IAC exhibition features a total of 139 artworks shown online through the museum's website www.guozhongtaoci.com. More than 70 artworks are displayed in the Museum.

 The opening and academic forum were carried out both online and offline simultaneously. A total of 94 IAC members from more than 60 countries attended the online event with more than 2,000 Chinese participants. Higby spoke from his home at 4am EST over a Zoom connection. He was asked to speak on the theme of new trends in the development of international ceramic art. In particular, he was asked to offer remarks on the current state of American art and ceramic art.

 Higby made several observations, including the following extract from his address:

 “Today, here in USA, we are living in a Kafkaesque time. This term Kafkaesque, based on the early 20th century literary work of Frank Kafka (1883-1924), is often employed to describe situations that are disorienting and illogically complex in a surreal or nightmarish way. American culture is disoriented and adrift. This is due to the Covid-19 epidemic, a political climate of distrust, media platforms flooded with disinformation, as well as a newly intensified manifestation of identity politics. Don’t look away, stay tuned -- remarkable work is on the horizon. Viruses, wars and poverty have fortunately not killed art. But right now artists of all persuasions in America are pushed close to the edge. Some great work will emerge from the chaos.”

 During the question and answer portion of the forum Higby discussed the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum’s virtual reality exhibition Full Capacity and the Museum’s upcoming, first-of-its-kind exhibition Path of the Tea Bowl: A Transnational Icon, set to open in September 2021.

 In addition, noting international anxieties stemming from the COVID pandemic, Higby added the following postscript to his remarks:

 “During this highly stressful, pandemic time it was especially good to see so many friends from across the world and at the Beijing Guozhong Ceramic Art Museum. At the conclusion of the program, our goodbyes to each other were heart felt. I was reluctant to click - leave meeting. Our current sense of isolation is drawing us together and that togetherness that we seek has a deep resonance that is fundamentally, poetically human.”

  Higby retired as Vice President Emeritus of the International Academy of Ceramics in 2018 after spending 20 years on the governing council. The complete text of his talk and a postscript written on Nov. 10 as a reflection on the IAC event is posted on the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum website at https://ceramicsmuseum.alfred.edu.