Posted July 12, 2017 in Blog

Shiyuan Xu, “Through the Lens #4,” 2016. Photo courtesy of Lisa Hardaway.

The following interview is the first in a summer series of Q&A sessions with current resident artists. HCCC Intern Claire Alderson recently spoke with Shiyuan Xu, a ceramicist inspired by a microscopic view of our world.

Claire Alderson: Do your ceramic sculptures and graphite drawings play off of one another? Or do you envision them as separate bodies of work?

Shiyuan Xu: For me, the drawings serve as additions to my ceramic pieces. They are reproductions and echo my ceramics in a very effective way, but I am trying to figure out how to intertwine the two mediums more closely.

Shiyuan Xu, “The Remaining,” 2016. Photo courtesy of Peter Bugg.

CA: How have the less predictable processes and materials of your pieces, especially the way you experiment with glaze, influenced your style and concept as an artist?

SX: I think that in my approach a lot of good things happen during the making process. It is always a learning experience, even if I have done it many times, because each piece is a new challenge. My mistakes provide me with opportunities for discovery, either through trying to correct them or attempting to take advantage of them—which may give me new ideas. The less predictable my process is, the more it pushes me to embrace unexpected results. I have found that the lack of control adds a loose, free quality to my work that people are really attracted to.

Shiyuan Xu, “The Most Wondrous Tiny Things,” 2016. Photo by Paul Hester.

CA: Considering your interest in nature, are there certain microscopic structures that inspire you more than others? What is it about studying structures on a molecular level that intrigues you?

SX: I pay particular attention to microscopic forms related to the origin of life, like seeds and diatoms or radiolarians in the ocean. What fascinates me about these structures is the degree of complexity within such basic, tiny life forms that provides evidence of their growth, expansion, and decay with such extraordinary beauty. It amazes me how nature is constantly at work when I study these microscopic images, and it keeps me coming back to look at them over and over again.

Shiyuan Xu in her studio at HCCC. Photo by HCCC.

CA: What will you be doing next?

SX: In the fall, I will be joining Lawrence Arts Center in Kansas for a year-long residency.

CA: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

SX: I hope to continue my practice and be able to display my work worldwide.

About Shiyuan Xu                                                                                              Shiyuan Xu is currently a yearlong resident at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. She received her Bachelor of Arts from China Academy of Art in 2012 and earned her Master of Fine Arts from Arizona State University in 2016. Shiyuan is the recipient of various distinguished awards, including the Emerging Artist Award from Ceramics Monthly, the Sage Summer Scholarship from the Archie Bray Foundation, the 2015 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center, and an Honorable Mention from Gyeonggi International Ceramics Biennial. Her work has been featured in Ceramics Monthly and Sculpture Magazine, and she recently exhibited a solo show, “Obscure Traces,” at Lone Star College in Montgomery, TX ( For more information on Shiyuan Xu, please visit,



Posted June 1, 2017 in Blog

Honeybees are here! Photo by Perry A. Price.

This spring, HCCC added around 10,000 new staff, give or take a hundred, but you will probably never notice them. They are working in our Craft Garden and likely will put in a few extra hours across the Museum District. They are honeybees, whose hive was recently installed on the roof of the Center.  Continue Reading »


Posted May 28, 2017 in Blog, Case Study

Peter Callas assisting Peter Voulkos in Belvidere, NJ, 1998. Peter Callas built the first anagama kiln in the United States, and Voulkos fired many of his pieces in it later in his career. Photo by TolneGGG (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons.

The following text accompanied the work, Untitled Plate (1989), by Peter Voulkos, on view April 18 – May 21, 2017, at HCCC as part of the Case Study exhibition series. Rotating periodically throughout the year, this series presents an in-depth look at craft-based objects as they relate to current events and/or spotlights a moment in craft history.

HCCC would like to thank the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, for making this work available for exhibition. Please make sure to visit In the Studio: Craft in Postwar America, 1950 – 1970, on view at the MFAH through October 8, 2017, to learn more about the development of Studio Craft in the United States.

Peter Voulkos (American, 1924-2002) was a pioneer of Studio Craft, a post-World War II movement in the United States that experimented with new techniques in the traditional materials of metal, clay, glass, wood, and fiber, as well as non-traditional materials. He shaped the ceramic avant-garde during the mid-20th Century and broadened the scope of contemporary ceramics through his experimentation with surface and form.

Continue Reading »


Posted May 5, 2017 in Blog

Madison Creech, “#TBT Smiley,” from the series, “Always Low Brow Always,” 2016. Hand embroidery on plastic Wal-Mart bag. Photo courtesy of Madison Creech.

HCCC Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro recently asked Madison Creech a few questions about the processes and inspiration behind her work. Madison is featured in In Residence, which is on view in HCCC’s Artist Hall through May 20, 2017. 

Sarah Darro: Your series of sculptural quilts, LOL-a-Bye Felicia, incorporates digital fabrication techniques and humorous references to music and pop culture. How do you see this work in conversation with a contemporary culture of sampling in the music industry and on the Internet?

Madison Creech: Within contemporary culture, we consume information and images without hierarchy. In one scroll through Facebook, you will find a tongue-in-check meme, then a newsworthy injustice, then a series of baby photos, etc. Each update occupies the same amount of space as the next. Our mind is subconsciously making connections and comparisons between the memes, the news, and our personal lives. I feel like a lot of my collaborative work with Matthew [Madison’s husband and artistic partner] consists of iterations of these connections and comparisons. Continue Reading »


Posted May 3, 2017 in Blog

Continue Reading »


Posted April 6, 2017 in Blog

Not infrequently, while on the phone or in a meeting in my office at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, the conversation will be distracted, if not outright interrupted, by the sounds of making coming from the studios of our resident artists. It never bothers me when this happens–which is good, as it happens every day–because it gives me an opportunity to brag about this incomparable program and the fascinating artists it brings to HCCC. Since joining the Center, the excitement and energy that the resident artists bring to my work daily has become among the most enjoyable aspects of my job. Continue Reading »


Posted March 17, 2017 in Case Study

The cat-eared knit hat on view at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft this spring has traveled thousands of miles, from a Maine-based knitting group to New Jersey; Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; and now Houston. It was worn on January 21, 2017, in Washington, D.C., at the Women’s March, the largest single-day peaceful demonstration in United States history. Betsey Norland, a knitter from Lambertville, New Jersey, was unable to attend the protest herself and knitted eight hats as a way to participate, commenting, “A little bit of me was on a lot of women.” This handmade hat is just one of millions that were created for and worn by participants marching in Washington, D.C., and in 600 sister marches worldwide. Continue Reading »


Posted March 14, 2017 in Blog

Althea Crome

Installation view of Althea Crome’s “King and Queen of Hearts Coronation Sweater,” 2015. On view in “Pocket Museum” at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft through March 18, 2017. Photo by Scott Cartwright.

In honor of Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is participating in #5womenartists, a national campaign led by The National Museum of Women in the Arts to share information about women artists. Check out other entries on our blog.

This week, HCCC Curatorial Fellow Sarah Darro asked Althea Crome a few questions about the processes and inspiration behind her work. Althea is featured in Pocket Museum, which is on view in HCCC’s Artist Hall through March 18, 2017.

Sarah Darro: A number of your pieces incorporate figurative subjects and narrative elements from the art historical canon, ranging from ancient Greek amphora to Picasso paintings. You have also collaborated on projects in which characters wear your designs: the 2009 stop-motion film, Coraline, for instance. How does narrative function in your work?

Althea Crome:  Storytelling started with my four children who, as they were growing up, begged me to tell them tales. It has evolved over time into storytelling in my artwork. All of my pictorial knitting tells a story—either through a single piece or through a series of work. Some of my pieces have an autobiographical theme, like my Scuba Cardigan, which I created during a time in my life when I was my most heartbroken and found it difficult to knit. I was newly divorced and looking for ways to find meaning in my life, so I took up scuba diving. The sweater tells a story of one wonderful day of scuba diving, when we were followed out to sea by dolphins, saw a rainbow and a water spout, swam with sharks and sea turtles, and I even lost and later found my weight belt in a coral reef. I used techniques on the collar and borders to create the illusion of water and sea life. The creation of this particular piece paid homage to the things in my life that helped save my spirit and, in the process, re-energized my desire to knit.  Continue Reading »

#5womenartists:  Alicia Dietz

Posted March 8, 2017 in Blog

Photo of Alicia Dietz by Maj. Richelle Treece, US Army National Guard.

Photo of Alicia Dietz by Maj. Richelle Treece, US Army National Guard.

In honor of Women’s History Month, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is participating in #5womenartists, a national campaign led by The National Museum of Women in the Arts to share information about women artists.

HCCC Curator Kathryn Hall recently asked woodworker and veteran, Alicia Dietz, currently featured in United by Hand: Work and Service by Drew Cameron, Alicia Dietz, and Ehren Tool, a few questions about her experience as a woodworker and Officer in the U.S. Army. Continue Reading »


Posted February 2, 2017 in Blog

Image found on Twitter: @rmayersinger.

Keeping up with current events, it was impossible to miss the millions who participated in the Women’s March on Washington D.C. and the sister marches organized around the globe. Also impossible to ignore was the role that craft played in the community building and optics of the historic protests through a march partner organization, the Pussyhat Project. Organized and spread online and through social media, the Pussyhat Project sought to create a unique visual statement for the march–both creating a field of pink that united individual protesters and offering a way to participate and support by those who could not physically join in the march but volunteered to knit and crochet hats. Continue Reading »