Seven McKnight Artists

Ceramic Exhibition

The exhibition features new work by 2011 McKnight Fellowship recipients Gerard Justin Ferrari and Mika Negishi Laidlaw; 2010 McKnight Residency recipients William Cravis, Rina Hongo, Naoto Nakada, and Kevin Snipes; and 2011 McKnight Residency recipient David Allyn.

Gerard Justin Ferrari used his McKnight Fellowship year to continue his work with Super Objects, a collection of pieces that embody extreme craftsmanship and heavy content.  He was able to experiment with various processes that allowed him to add two-dimensional imagery to the surface of his sculptures in the Poisoned Cocoon series.

Ferrari received his BA from Berea College in Kentucky and his MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. His intricately carved sculptures with trompe l’oeil surfaces have been exhibited nationally, most recently in Feats of Clay XXIV, Lincoln Arts, Lincoln, Nebraska; 18th San Angelo National Ceramic Competition, San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, Texas; Strange Brew: The Gerry & Daphina Cramer Teapot Collection, Arizona State University Art Museum Research Center, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Tempe, Arizona; and various SOFA Chicago art shows.


Mika Negishi Laidlaw used her McKnight Fellowship year to create a new body of ceramic sculpture based on the idea of “Memory of Cells.”  By stacking and arranging slip-cast forms, she was able to create larger-scale work not achieved in her past sculptures.  She was also able to begin investigating  different visual expressions in Buddhist art, as well as its connection to her ancestry and heritage.

Laidlaw received her BA in studio art from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and her MFA in ceramics from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. She was an apprentice at the Akishino-Pottery for Masaya Imanishi in Nara-City, Japan, from 1994 – 1997.  She is currently an associate professor of art and ceramics at Minnesota State University in Mankato.

Her voluptuous sculptural and functional forms have been included in exhibitions such as Seven-Year Itch, Les Laidlaw and Mika Negishi Laidlaw, two-person exhibition, Carnegie Center for Art, Mankato, Minnesota; Immigrant Impact, Duncan McClellan Gallery, St. Petersburg, Florida; 2010 International Orton Cone Box show, Holt/Russell Gallery, Baldwin, Kansas; 8 Fluid Ounces, Glassell Gallery, Louisiana State University; and Art of Fine Craft, Lux Center for the Arts, Lincoln, Nebraska.
William Cravis spent his three-month residency attempting to fulfill his proposed project of creating a series of large double-walled vessels.  While he was somewhat successful—one of four pieces survived the entire process—he was also able to make a body of smaller, more intimate pieces, into which he hopes to incorporate video.

Cravis received his BFA from the California College of the Arts in Oakland and his MFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He has been in residence at a variety of art centers, including the Boston Center for the Arts in Massachusetts; the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin; the Skowhegan School of Sculpture and Painting in Maine; and an international residency at Stiftung Futur in Rapperswil, Switzerland.


Rina Hongo was one of two artists awarded a McKnight Residency in 2010 through a nominative process, which selects one to two mid-career artists who would make strong candidates for 3-month residencies at NCC. While in residence at Northern Clay Center, Hongo continued her sculptural work that combines layers upon layers of newspaper and slurry, as well as screen-printed cloths, to create seemingly rough, brick-like, yet extremely delicate forms.

Hongo currently resides in the Gifu-ken prefecture in Japan. She received her BFA from the Kyoto University of Art and Design in 2007 and has exhibited her ceramic sculpture and pottery in Gifu-ken, Mino, and Tokyo, as well as in Minneapolis, MN.


Naoto Nakada was the second of two artists awarded a McKnight Residency in 2010 through a nominative process.  He focused his three-month residency on creating a new body of work, a set of molded ceramic license plates, which he documented in use on each plate’s respective automobile.

Nakada comes from Tokyo. He completed his undergraduate degree at Nagoya University of Arts in Nagoya and his postgraduate courses at Tama Art University in Tokyo. He has exhibited his sculptures in solo and group shows in Tokyo, Kyoto, Chiba, Osaka, and Shiga, as well as in Minneapolis, MN. Through humor and ambiguity, Nakada’s ceramic installations elicit interaction with the viewer. He occasionally employs materials other than ceramics in his mini-installations and outlandish sculptures, but does so to draw a point of comparison.


Kevin Snipes used his McKnight Residency to further develop his current body of work.  Originally intending to increase the scale of his functional sculptures, he instead tried to develop his pieces conceptually, finding greater importance in looking further at the intimate relationship functional ceramics can have with its viewers or handlers.

Snipes received his BFA in ceramics and drawing from the Cleveland Institute of Art in Ohio and his MFA from the University of Florida, Gainesville. Prior to being in residence at Northern Clay Center, Snipes was also a resident at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana; Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, Maine; The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Worcester Center for Crafts in Worcester, Massachusetts. His ceramic wares have been featured in solo and group exhibitions at AKAR, The Clay Studio, Lillstreet Art Center, and Santa Fe Clay.

During his 3-month McKnight residency, David Allyn was pleased to have time and space to work creatively on his highly colorful and image-filled objects.  While continuing his work with screen printing, decals, and stencils, he was also able to work outside of his normal techniques by utilizing atmospheric firing.  He also enjoyed becoming a part of NCC’s “factory of learning,” a term he coined for Northern Clay Center’s studio area.

Allyn received his BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he was an instructor of ceramics. His functional wares and tiles have been included in exhibitions such as Using It Up, Rabbit Hole Gallery, New York, New York; Political Craft, Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, Massachusetts; and group, Art Interactive, Boston, Massachusetts.  He lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where he is the founding department head of ceramics at the Steel Yard, an organization located in the industrial valley district of Providence.


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