Sexual politics in ceramics

Local gallery displays pieces that explore sexuality and gender identity.

Hanna Haglund, Reporter

ceramics4 resized

Just off interstate 94 in Minneapolis hides the small, but talent-filled Northern Clay Center. March 13 through April 26, “Sexual Politics: Gender, Sexuality and Queerness in Contemporary Ceramics” was on display at the Clay Center. This exhibition focuses on the biological and social structure of sexuality and bringing the topic into conversation. The goal of the exhibit is to shift the ideas and social acceptance of sexual and gender identities by visually stimulating the conversation through art.

“Art can unite us in what it is to be human. Part of that ‘being human’ is the acknowledgment of the biology of sex and the social construction of gender within intersecting identities,” curator Kelly Connole wrote.

The Clay Center’s head of education and art services program, Dustin Yager, is one of the artists featured during this exhibit. Working from his studio at the Clay Center, he created a pair of prestigious ceramic stools and an assortment of porcelain plates for the Sexual Politics exhibit.

“It’s really such an honor to be invited to show alongside these other artists. It was a chance to work in new directions and I described a few pieces that I had in mind that problematize the otherwise rosy narrative of acceptance and diversity in mainstream culture,” Yager said.

The artwork in the exhibit varied from sculptures to porcelain plates, featuring artists from all over the United States. When first entering Exhibit M, there is sculpture of a woman revealing her breasts with her hands outward. Artist Christina West created this piece, “Guarded,” out of glazed ceramic, pigmented Hydrocal paint and epoxy. Another artist, Ron Geibel, has a porcelain and luster creation called “Strike” displayed on a low table in the center of the exhibit’s room. Yager says his series of porcelain goblets are “good example of things that combine personal experience, the reality of dating apps and social stigmas, etc, with craft, sloppiness and status or display.”  While West’s piece has a strong depiction of the sexual conversation, Geibel’s bowling-like piece is a bit more ambiguous.

“My inspiration is fairly personal, although as I evaluate each idea I hope to find themes that resonate with other people.  I sort of set my mind chewing on an idea and brainstorm and sketch and think ‘what if.’ From there I explore why I like that idea, what themes it plays on. My work is also in dialogue with contemporary ceramics and pottery, so inside jokes about that are sort of the icing on the cake,” Yager said.

The exhibit was open March 13 – April 26 and had a great public response with visitors. Next month the Northern Clay Center is going to feature NCC members and their art pieces. To see some more of Yager’s work visit

Artist Christina West's sculpture "Guarded."
Hanna Haglund
Artist Christina West’s sculpture “Guarded.”