Contemporary Traditions and Allusions:
Anderson, Fowler and Ten Zulu Potters

Gallery ceramics zulu2

Gallery Ceramics Anderson

September 4 – 29, 2019

Curated by Grace Nickel and Kent Fowler
School of Art Gallery - Collections Gallery


The School of Art Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition that brings together Pj Anderson, a School of Art alumnus, with Professor Kent Fowler and ten Zulu artists. This exhibition represents cultural connections around the world through contemporary ceramics and traditional practices.

During her BFA studies, Pj Anderson joined Dr. Fowler, an anthropology professor who studies traditional South African pottery, on a research trip to South Africa. While there she had the chance to work with Zulu potters; Anderson remains inspired by the rich cultural traditions she observed on this trip. She addresses her Jamaican and Aboriginal heritage in her work; her mixed identity continues to inform her art practice as she searches for individual connection and collective identity. Anderson's work is becoming bolder with political content, drawing attention to the historical and current marginalization of people of colour in North America.

The work of Zulu potters featured in the exhibition are from four communities in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. These women invest their own identity and experiences into their work, while drawing from a tradition that spans thousands of years. The work produced is at once distinctively individual, regional, and “Zulu.”

Featured artists: Pj Anderson, Nesta Gumbi, Peni Gumbi Nonhlanhla, Shongani Gumede, Joyce Khumalo, Shongaziphi Magwaza, Thandiwe Magwaza, Zikoti Magwaza, Gijeni Mtungwa, Doris Mngomezulu, and Grace Ndlovu

Wednesday, September 11: 4:30 - 6:30 pm

Lunch Hour Tour
Wednesday, September 18 20 minute tour with SOAG Gallery Education Coordinator

1000 Miles Apart Ceramics Conference
Reception Collections Gallery
Thursday, September 26: 6:00 - 9:00 pm.

Pj Anderson & Kent Fowler keynote address
7:00 pm, Room 136, ARTlab

Ceramics Demo & Workshop
with PJ Anderson
Coiling, terra sigillata & burnishing
Friday, September 27, 2019
9:30 a.m. – noon.
Location: Ceramics Studio Room 115 (Ceramics and Sculpture Building)

More About the Exhibition
Pj Anderson
For this collection, I decided to bring together selected pieces of my work made after I had the opportunity to visit South Africa. Watching, documenting and making work during those two visits has led to a long-term interest in Ancient Technology and its applications. Contemporary artists working with and making with technologies passed down throughout generations reinforces connections to cultural practices and community in a way that resonate strongly with me and some aspects of my work. While the uppercase dialogue of my work changes with each new series, the undercurrents of my work reference the longing for connection to cultural resources that were lost to the fallout of the colonial era.

Each world view is a cultural product developed by a community and shared with its members. It is from this base that I have explored craft, identity and culture; how these variables impact my world view and how I can explore and express my relationship with them all. My work draws from Hundreds of years removed from the involuntary migration of my Jamaican, Indigenous and European peoples, I feel a strong kinship to their traditional crafts of basketry and ceramics. We have very few stories or skills passed down, because they were forbidden. I was initially trained, not by a grandmother or an elder but an art school. It is an uneasy thing, to learn about one’s own cultural heritage from elective classes, taught by Scholars and Anthropologists not members of that group. I also struggle with the realization that without these scholars and anthropologists I would know very little about the cultures from which I was born; the stories about my past kin-people would be largely forgotten.

My work is informed by that uneasy relationship between my indirect knowledge of my ancestors; from the coil and burnish technique used to build the ceramic vessels, (a fabrication method used by both African and Indigenous American) to woven additions (again, both used in African and Indigenous  Craft production) to how I strive for a connection through using these techniques.  There is no implication that my work is African or Indigenous. I am Canadian, and thus my work is Canadian, with all that title carries with it. While my work references specifically aspects of my own cultural identity, I must acknowledge that the vast majority of Canadians also belong to a culture of removal and reinvention of cultural identity. These works are unique to me but also speak to the larger phenomenon of the evolution and transformation of Canadian identity as a whole. We are all of us building something new, together.

A Statement by Kent Fowler
Between 2002 and 2014, the Nguni Ceramics and Society Project documented how pottery was made, used, and circulated within and outside of Zulu and Swazi communities in eastern South Africa and the Kingdom of eSwatini. The aim of the project was to understand the practices of potters, their technical knowledge, how people taught and learned the craft, and what had changed and why during the 20th century. Over this period, anthropology students and artists watched potting demonstrations, actively worked with potters, collected information on family histories, pottery uses, styles and names, religious prohibitions and ritual observances, and observed and participated first-hand in the life-history of pottery containers in Zulu and Swazi societies, from their manufacture to their use in every-day life and ritual observances. As part of these efforts, a significant collection of pottery was obtained from eight communities. A portion of this collection is represented in this exhibition. It reflects the different practices, traditions, and histories of contemporary Zulu potters both as members of the largest cultural group in South Africa and as rural women living in a society still struggling to right itself of inequality and poverty a quarter century after the fall of apartheid.

1000 Miles Apart Ceramics Conference
September 26 – 29, 2019
The 1000 Miles Apart Ceramics Conference was first organized in 1989 by faculty and students from the University of Manitoba and Red Deer College in Alberta, hence the name: 1000 Miles Apart. The conference connects post-secondary ceramics institutions across Canada through exhibitions, presentations, and artist demonstrations.

The 2019 conference will be held at the University of Manitoba. This ceramic conference is a pivotal networking event for students and emerging ceramic artists recognized on a national scale for 30 years. This conference allows students to meet and dialogue with professional artists, learn new techniques, exhibit their own works, and above all, network to build a stronger art community for the future. Participating schools now include Alberta University of the Arts, Red Deer College, University of Regina, University of Manitoba, and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, ON.

About the Artists and Curators
Pj Anderson
Pj Anderson is an Afro/Indigenous Ceramic Artist from Thompson, Manitoba, Canada. She has shown internationally, as Resident Artist at the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa, in China as a finalist in the International Ceramic Magazine Editors Associations (ICMEA) emerging artist competition, the United States; as in Craftforms at the Wayne Art Center and Unwedged at Pottery Northwest as well as Galleries across Canada such as the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery. She has lectured on African Ceramics and Canadian Ceramics at the University of Manitoba, the University of Kwazulu Natal, for the Manitoba Craft Council, and the Manitoba Craft Museum and Library. She teaches ceramics classes for the City of Winnipeg and Winnipeg Art Gallery. Her work can be found at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, the Winnipeg Art Gallery Shop, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights and at Grollé Galleries.

Grace Nickel
Grace Nickel is an award-winning artist who has been successful in numerous competitions, including the Mino International Ceramics Competition, Japan, and the Taiwan Ceramic Biennale. Her work has been selected for the Cheongju International Craft Biennale in Korea, the NCECA Invitational Exhibition, in
Philadelphia and Portland, and the Fule International Art Museums Project in Fuping, China. Public commissions include Donors’ Forest created for the Beechwood National Cemetery of Canada in Ottawa, and permanent collections include the Museum of Modern Ceramic Art in Gifu, Japan, the Art Gallery of
Nova Scotia, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, including at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Art Gallery of Burlington, Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Grace has attended numerous artists’ residencies, spoken widely about her work, including recent engagements at the AK Ceramics Centre in the Icheon Ceramics Village, Korea and the Australian Ceramics Triennale in Tasmania. and regularly attends conferences to keep up to the minute on contemporary ceramics practice. She has a long history of involvement with the arts community in Winnipeg and teaching art. She is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Art at the University of Manitoba and is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

Kent Fowler
Dr. Kent D. Fowler is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Manitoba. He is an archaeologist with research interests in crafts production, farming societies and the development of state societies. Dr. Fowler was the first anthropologist to employ a chaînes opératoires (operations sequences) approach to ceramic analysis in sub-equatorial Africa, demonstrating the ways technical know-how in pottery-making is linked to people’s daily and seasonal routines, social networks, and social identities. Fowler has applied the knowledge gained from ethnoarchaeology and experimental archaeology to develop innovative methods in archaeoacoustics, ceramic provenience research, ancient fingerprint analysis, and identifying past pottery manufacturing processes in Africa, the Near East, and Canada. He currently directs the Zulu Kingdom Archaeological Project, a case study of whether craft specialization and surplus production is a universal feature in the formation of state societies. He is the author of three books, over 60 articles, a veteran of more than 30 conference presentations, and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and elected member of the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists.