Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University (CAM) has a new student-curated exhibition, Shaping Nature, by Buffalo-based Japanese potter Junko McGee that explores the relationship between nature and artistry on view through October 29. Shaping Nature is McGee’s first solo exhibition, curated by Niagara University’s Exhibiting Cultures class, led by Senior Lecturer and CAM Curator of Folk Arts Edward Y. Millar.
McGee’s passion for experimentation focuses on learning new techniques, shapes, and textures that encourage the sensory exploration of each piece. This exhibition features more than 20 ceramic items, including vases, bowls, teapots, and cups, with styles ranging from stoneware, Raku (a special firing technique), Nerikomi (an agateware style), and sodium silicate effect (producing crackled glaze). Visitors are encouraged to touch specially-designed textured tiles, then record what the tile’s texture reminds them of, a memory that it inspires, or how it makes them feel.
“Pottery should be touched,” said McGee. “My pottery is people-friendly, meaning that when you touch it, it has a comfortable feeling; not just the shape, but also its beautiful look and function. Clay comes from nature and the elements that inspire me. Inspiration can come from anywhere; mine comes from what I see and feel.”
In 1996, nearly a decade after moving to Buffalo from Tokyo, a friend introduced McGee to the University at Buffalo’s Creative Craft Center pottery class, where she immediately fell in love with pottery making and has been creating fine wares ever since. Her deep connection to the region includes teaching at Buffalo Public School 76 Herman Badillo Bilingual Academy for 30 years (1990-2020), participating in local arts and crafts festivals, and making specific pottery for the local Japanese community’s tea ceremonies.
“Hearing about Junko’s experience and her history with pottery was interesting and eye-opening,” said Niagara University student Anjali Verma. “Through this curatorial experience, I have broadened my perspective, and it has allowed me to understand the appreciation of cultural diversity and history through art.”
CAM recently posted an Instagram reel highlighting the student installation of Shaping Nature. Click here to learn more about Junko McGee.
An exhibition reception will be held on Thursday, June 15, from 5:30–7:30 p.m. in tandem with the reception for two CAM summer exhibition openings, Northward: Niagara River Views and Knowing Land. Light refreshments will be provided. Reserve space by visiting bit.ly/camsummerreception.
About the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University (CAM): With learning and public access at the heart of its mission, CAM is the premiere resource for the visual arts in Niagara County. The museum’s permanent collection includes over 5,000 pieces of modern and contemporary art, Niagara Falls art, and regional Folk Arts. CAM is committed to the preservation of these artworks, along with offering exhibitions and programs that serve the campus, local communities, and tourists.
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