Monday, May 27, 2019


The MN NICE group finished up the classroom portion of the year this week. We had recent group critiques Linda Christianson and Heather Nameth Bren. Both of them brought new eyes and thoughtful comments to our ongoing conversation.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Adobe in the Southwest

This is my final check in on the NCC Blog from what is now called Santa Fe, New Mexico. Santa Fe is on occupied Tewa (Pueblo) land and sits where a Pueblo village, called Oga Pogeh Owingeh (White Shell Water Place), was before European colonization. I am here working with Cornerstones Community Partnerships, an organization that restores historic adobe buildings around the greater Southwest. Gearing up for projects in summer, we have been hosting community adobe brick-making events. We are inviting the public to make bricks with us to be a part of the restorations in Northern New Mexico. 

Setting up for the event. 

Here are some images of San Rafael Church in La Cueva, NM that Cornerstones restored years ago.

I also recently had the opportunity to travel to some important adobe structures around the Southwest, including SiwaƱ Wa’a Ki: (O’odham for name for Casa Grande) in Arizona. This Hokoham site was a huge center for trade in the region for over a thousand years before 1450 AD. Macaws from now-called Southern Mexico and Belize were traded through here for turquoise from now-called Arizona and New Mexico. 

Images of Casa Grande in Arizona.

In addition to visiting Arcosanti in Arizona and working with Cornerstones in both California and New Mexico, I have been working on a body of artwork of my own and a publication of my writing. This body of work is in progress, but has included working with earthen materials and researching extractive industries in the US West. Thank you, Issac

Saturday, March 9, 2019

"Ideal Made Real" Exhibition!

The exhibition Ideal Made Real: MN NICE is up in the Vine Arts Gallery through April 8, 2019. The show features the work of program Alumni and Affiliate Artists and celebrates MN NICE’s fifth anniversary. The exhibition is on display during Claytopia, the 2019 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Conference held in Minneapolis. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019


MN NICE alumni worked hard this week to install their stunning exhibition at the Vine Arts Center Gallery. They transformed the space! The exhibition highlights work from program graduates as well the work of Affiliate Artists who mentor students throughout the year.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

MN NICE in-class

The MN NICE group has had some great Monday seminars lately, looking at glaze tests and the profile of bowls.

Friday, January 11, 2019

MN NICE Trip to Samuel Johnson's Studio

The MN NICE group spent a fascinating day in St. Joseph, visiting Sam Johnson's studio and the wood kiln at St. John's University. We stopped by Richard Bresnahan's pottery and had a lovely discussion with his current apprentices.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Death Valley Adobe Work

Hello again—this is Issac Logsdon, one of the 2018 Warren MacKenzie Grant Recipients.

This fall I spent five weeks stretching out summer in the Ancestral Lands of the Timbisha Shoshone, now called Death Valley, California. The valley is the lowest, driest, and hottest place in the United States with summer days reaching past 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Working in the park, which was my first project with Cornerstones, our crew restored several sections of a perimeter wall at Cow Creek. This included both rebuilding parts from the foundation up and repairing the original, but weather-worn 1930s wall. This perimeter wall and about a dozen other adobe structures were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program created under the 1930s New Deal. Within a few years at the beginning of World War II, the structures were left empty. After a riot at the nearby internment camp called Manzanar, 65 Americans of Japanese Ancestry were interned at Cow Creek in these adobe buildings for nearly three months. 

Adobe building, a method of earthen architecture comprised of sun-baked clay bricks, has been used all over the American Southwest and Northern Mexico for over a thousand years. Learning the processes of adobe felt really intuitive because so much of my knowledge from studio ceramics transferred easily. But not only was I able to reconstruct this history through hands on work, I was also able to speak with a historian at Manzanar and do some archival research about the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Japanese American internees. 

At the end of the five weeks in Death Valley, me and another crew member had the opportunity to restore sections of a 1906 bottle house in the ghost town of Rhyolite. NV. The Bottle House was built by miner Tom Kelly in 1906 using an estimated 50,000 bottles, including wine, whiskey, beer, champagne, and medicine bottles. These bottles were held in place with earthen mortar.