Ceramic artists show work at Barton

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Ceramics will be the focus of an exhibition of works opening this spring in the Barton Art Galleries on the campus of Barton College.

The “Cynthia Bringle and Friends” exhibition will provide an opportunity to view the works of one of North Carolina’s most recognized and celebrated ceramic artists, Cynthia Bringle, and three of her artist friends: ceramicists Rebekah Strickland, Gertrude Graham “Gay” Smith and Susan Feagin. The exhibition will run from March 18 through April 18, with several events planned in collaboration with the art show.

On Thursday, March 21, the Barton Art Galleries and the Barton College Friends of Visual Arts will host an opening reception at 5 p.m. for the exhibit. At 6 p.m., an artist lecture will follow, featuring Bringle. These two events are open to the public at no charge, and the community is invited to attend.

Following the lecture, the Barton College Friends of Visual Arts will host a dinner for FOVA members at 7 p.m. in the Kennedy Family Theatre with Bringle. Advance reservations are required. Members of the Friends of Visual Arts can make dinner reservations by contacting Maureen O’Neill at 252-399-6476 or moneill@barton.edu.

On March 23 and March 30, Bringle will also hold ceramic workshops in the Case Art Building’s ceramic studio from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Open to the public, each Saturday workshop is $15 per person, and advance reservations are required as space is limited. For reservations, please contact Maureen O’Neill at 252-399-6476 or moneill@barton.edu.

During the run of the art exhibition, guests can visit with Bringle for studio chats and view the ongoing work of Barton students, Monday to Friday, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the ceramic studio in Case Art Building.


Cynthia Bringle is a ceramic artist, who lives and works in Penland. Although she is most well known for her ceramics, she is also a painter and printmaker. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Memphis Academy of Art and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Alfred University. Bringle runs a gallery in Penland with her twin sister, where she sells her pottery. She has taught workshops nationwide, and she has taught at Penland School of Crafts for many years. Bringle is a fellow of the American Craft Council and a recipient of the North Carolina Award for Fine Art. Her work is in the collection of the Mint Museum of Craft and Design, Burlington Art Centre and the High Museum of Art.

Rebekah Strickland lives and works in Atlanta. Her ceramics education has been a mix of arts center classes, craft school workshops and short-term residencies at Penland School of Crafts. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Agnes Scott College and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Georgia. Strickland’s soda and salt-fired porcelain and stoneware pots are simple in form, generous in volume and decorated with colorful images of birds, plants, landscapes and abstract patterns. These images reflect memories from her north Florida childhood. They also reflect her love of drawings and prints, Medieval art and architecture, and the work of artists such as Walter Anderson and Samuel Palmer.

Gertrude Graham Smith, aka Gay Smith, is a studio potter and teaching artist. She single fires porcelain ware in a soda kiln near Penland. Artist-in-residencies include Archie Bray Foundation and Penland School. She has taught workshops at Penland, Haystack, Harvard and the Findhorn Foundation. Smith’s work is shown internationally and is included in collections such as the Mint Museum and Taiwan’s Taipei County Yingge Museum.

Susan Feagin’s current body of hand-built ceramics uses mid-range, stoneware clay, and the clay surfaces are embellished with colored slips and screen-printed underglaze “floofs,” or stenciled decorations. The work is fired in a soda atmosphere, meaning that a soda ash and water solution is sprayed into the kiln at peak temperature. The result is a clay surface that is kissed by clear glaze and alive with color. Feagin graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Design from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1992. She began taking clay workshops at Penland School of Craft in 1994 and was a Core Fellow at Penland from 1998 to 2000. She completed her Master of Fine Arts degree in ceramics at the University of Florida in 2007. She is the clay studio coordinator for Penland School of Craft and resides in Spruce Pine.