Clay works at exhibit aren’t just a wonder to look at, they’re a tie to midstate past

Julie Wilkerson sees more than mugs, plates, decorative sculptures and other crafted work and artwork going on display in Central City Park’s Round Building.

As beautiful — and functional — as the varied pieces are, Wilkerson said she’s more intrigued seeing the link between the pottery, ceramics and people who make and use them today and the earlier Middle Georgians who did much the same thing thousands of years ago.

Wilkerson is executive director of Macon Arts Alliance, sponsor of the 2019 Fired Works Regional Ceramics Exhibition and Sale where the fired pieces will be shown and sold Friday-April 14.

“Our show is the largest in Georgia and one of the largest in the Southeast,” Wilkerson said. “But what’s really most interesting to me is the link it represents between the people and the clay and the way of life of Central Georgians today and those who lived here throughout history. And just as interesting is that even though technology has modernized, the basic material and way of making and using such items is essentially the same. We make things needed for daily life; so did they. We make things to brighten and make our surroundings more beautiful; so did they. Middle Georgia’s rich clay, and all this red clay we worry about tracking in our homes, has been central to life and culture here throughout our history.”

Megan McNaught, curator at Macon Arts Alliance and operator of the Black Cat Studio, said there’s not just something for everyone at the show and sale, there’s something wonderful for every taste and budget.

“The range of work and artists is pretty amazing,” she said. “There are items at every price point from $5 on up and I’ve tried to make sure there’s a great variety of styles and techniques from traditional to experimental with each being something superb in its own way. You won’t see the same thing from table to table to table.”

For McNaught, a highlight of Fired Works is meeting and talking with artists. She said the best opportunity for the public to do the same is a preview party 6-9 p.m. Friday at the Round Building. It’s $40 to attend.

“Many of the artists will be there and eager to talk about particular pieces and how they go about their work,” McNaught said. “I guess the second highlight for me is when someone finds something they love and makes it part of their life, whether it’s to use or more to look at.”

Kathy Nolan, a communications consultant to the Arts Alliance, said scattered throughout the nine-day show are events and workshops, some allowing children and adults to get their hands dirty and make something useful and/or beautiful — such as the people of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation did who settled an early “downtown” in what is now the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.

Fired Works will also present talks by this year’s featured artists, Laura Cooper and Janet McGregor Dunn.

Children’s workshop and featured artist talks are free with general admission, adult workshops resulting in a finished, fired piece for participants, are at a fee. Times and costs and preview party details are at Macon Arts Alliance’s website.

“All in all, Fired Works is a great opportunity to celebrate our history and understand the importance of clay and this art to Macon and our way of life,” Wilkerson said. “It’s a chance to see beautifully done practical and artistic pottery, purchase pieces to enjoy at home and at the same time support area artists and the work of the Arts Alliance.”

Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

Fired Works

Where: The Round Building, Central City Park

When: April 5-14

Cost: $5 general admission, some featured events extra

Information: www.facebook.com/MaconArtsAlliance, www.maconartsalliance.org