Return to Earth

Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso, 1943–1963, and Its Legacy
Organized to coincide with the public opening of the exhibition Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso, 1943–1963, this symposium offers a number of new perspectives on the often-overlooked, yet ground-breaking work in fired clay of some of the most important artists of the 20th century.

Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso, 1943–1963 was on view September 21, 2013 - January 19, 2014.

Morning Session: A Historical Perspective 

Divergent but Parallel: The Ceramic Sculpture of Lucio Fontana and Fausto Melotti in Postwar Italy
Marin Sullivan, Henry Moore Foundation Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Fine Art, History of Art, and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds (UK)

Joan Miró and the Artigases: A Phantasmagoric World of Living Monsters
Jed Morse, Chief Curator, Nasher Sculpture Center

Isamu Noguchi Ceramics: A Kind of Antisculpture
Catherine Craft, Adjunct Assistant Curator for Research and Exhibitions, Nasher Sculpture Center

Pablo Picasso: Life with Art
Dakin Hart, Senior Curator, The Noguchi Museum, New York

Afternoon Session: A View from Today
Panel Discussion featuring

Nicole Cherubini, Artist, New York
Ginger Geyer, Artist, Austin
Brian Molanphy, Artist and Assistant Professor of Ceramics, Southern Methodist University, Dallas
Jed Morse, Moderator


Jed Morse

Jed Morse is Chief Curator of the Nasher Sculpture Center and curator of Return to Earth.  He served as the editor of the exhibition catalogue and contributed an essay on Joan Miró.  A specialist in Spanish modernism and modern and contemporary sculpture, Morse received a Master of Arts degree in art history from the University of Texas at Austin.  Since 1999, he has held curatorial positions at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center where he has contributed to such exhibitions and catalogues as Henry Moore: Sculpting the 20th Century(2001), David Smith: Drawing and Sculpting (2005), and Matisse: Painter as Sculptor (2007).  Morse has also organized numerous exhibitions, including Jaume Plensa: Genus and Species(2010); Revelation: The Art of James Magee (2010); and Tony Cragg: Seeing Things (2011), for which he served as the primary author.  In addition to his duties at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Morse has contributed to books such as Barcelona and Modernity: Picasso, Gaudí, Miró, Dalí(Cleveland Museum of Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006), and has lectured widely on a variety of topics.  He is currently working on Nasher XChange, an ambitious exhibition of art in the public realm commissioning 10 new works of art by 10 artists for 10 sites throughout the city of Dallas in celebration of the Nasher Sculpture Center’s 10th Anniversary.

Catherine Craft

Catherine Craft is the Nasher Sculpture Center’s Assistant Curator for Research and Exhibitions.  An expert on Dada, Abstract Expressionism, and Neo-Dada, Craft received her doctoral degree in art history from the University of Texas at Austin.  She is the author of An Audience of Artists: Dada, Neo-Dada, and the Emergence of Abstract Expressionism (University of Chicago, 2012) andRobert Rauschenberg (Phaidon, 2013), as well numerous articles and reviews. She has presented talks at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven. As a senior research fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she conceived and co-curated the 2011 exhibition Paper Trails: Selected Works from the Permanent Collection 1934-2001. At the Nasher, she has contributed catalogue essays on Isamu Noguchi for Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso, 1943–1963 (2013) and on Katharina Grosse for Katharina Grosse: WUNDERBLOCK (2013). She is presently organizing a retrospective of the sculptor Melvin Edwards for 2015 and an exhibition on Hans (Jean) Arp’s sculpture, reliefs and works on paper for 2017.

Dakin Hart

Dakin Hart recently began work as Senior Curator of The Noguchi Museum in New York.  Prior to this post, he served as Assistant to the Director for Harry Parker at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Director of Arts Programs at Montalvo Center for the Arts in Silicon Valley, and Assistant Director for the Nasher Sculpture Center, helping to complete and open the museum in 2002–03.  He moved to New York in 2004 where he pursued a PhD in art history at the Institute of Fine Arts (NYU) with Robert Rosenblum and worked with Picasso biographer John Richardson, culminating in the third volume of Richardson’s Life of Picasso and a series of exhibitions for Gagosian Gallery, including Picasso: Mosqueteros and Picasso: The Mediterranean Years (1945-1962). As an independent curator and writer, Hart organized Sculpture in So Many Words: Text Pieces 1960-80 (Nasher Sculpture Center, 2012), a survey of text-based works relating to the conceptual fragmentation and expansion of the practice of sculpture in the 1960s and 70s, andSure Sure Davi Det Hompson: 1976-1995, a retrospective for the American neo-Dada, Fluxus, and book artist David Det Hompson (ZieherSmith Gallery, New York, 2013), as well as contributed an essay on Picasso’s work in ceramics entitled “Pablo Picasso: Life with Art” to the exhibition catalogue for Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso, 1943–1963 (2013).

Marin R. Sullivan

Marin R. Sullivan is the Henry Moore Foundation Post-doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds (Leeds, UK).  Prior to her present appointment, Dr. Sullivan taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Michigan, and Southern Methodist University. She has also held various curatorial positions and fellowships at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. Dr. Sullivan’s research investigates the history of modern and contemporary sculpture, with a particular emphasis on the postwar European and American context. She is preparing a book manuscript tentatively titled Sculptural Arenas: Material and Action in Postwar Italy and has contributed to numerous scholarly publications, including the Journal of Curatorial Studies(forthcoming October 2013).  Most recently, she has contributed a catalogue essay entitled “Lucio Fontana and Fausto Melotti: Ceramic Sculpture in Post-War Italy” for the Nasher Sculpture Center’s forthcoming exhibition, Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso, 1943–1963 (2013). Sullivan received her doctoral degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Nicole Cherubini

A sculptor known for her abstract ceramic works, Cherubini uses techniques of ornamentation, assemblage, and coiling to create works that meld the visual aesthetic of high art with that of the utilitarian object. Incorporating unexpected materials such as chain link, wood, tufts of fur, and fragments of glass, Cherubini creates works that often reference traditional art-historical uses of clay, such as vessels or vases, but which simultaneously overturn those conceits. Incorporating multiple materials into a single work, Cherubini layers them to create unexpected textures and forms, inviting viewers to reconsider the modern incantation of ceramic sculpture. Cherubini's work has been exhibited at notable institutions such as the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and MoMA Ps1, among others.

Ginger Geyer

Austin-based artist Ginger Geyer was born in 1953, grew up in Arkansas, and earned her BFA and MFA degrees from Southern Methodist University. She worked for 13 years at the Kimbell Art Museum and Dallas Museum of Art in conservation, collection management, and planning. Geyer received a Masters of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest. She has been an Adjunct Professor there and at Concordia University, in painting and ceramics. Since 1999 she has served as arts consultant and gallery curator for Laity Lodge, a retreat center supported by the H.E. Butt Foundation in the Texas Hill Country. Hand-built, glazed porcelain has been her primary medium since 1990, creating detailed pieces that evoke a blend of her experiences as a playful church-fed child, a curious museum professional, wife and mother of two, and an insatiable student of theology. Ginger is currently represented by Valley House Gallery in Dallas, TX, and by literary agent Kathleen Davis Niendorff. Formerly representation includes Cidnee Patrick/Edith Baker Gallery, Dallas, Texas, and LyonsMatrix Gallery, Austin, Texas.

Brian Molanphy

A European bicycle tour introduced Brian Molanphy to wood-fired ceramics & wood-oven baked bread. He studied pots and pastry until a Pennsylvania State University Fellowship put pastry on the back burner. Upon completion of the Ceramics MFA degree, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the National Manufactory of Sèvres, France. As artist-in-residence at the Alberta College of Art & Design in Calgary, Canada he completed exhibitions there & in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He returned to France as a Fellow of the Camargo Foundation in Cassis and as a Fellow of the Brown Foundation in Ménerbes, which led to several exhibitions in France. He is an elected member of the International Academy of Ceramics, which presents contemporary ceramics at its highest level, including fewer than 80 American artists. Molanphy began teaching ceramics at Southern Methodist University in the fall of 2011. In 2012 he was awarded a Meadows Faculty Development Grant and a University Research Council Grant for continued research on marbled clay in France. Recent exhibitions include Mondes céramiques, Aubagne, France; Craft Texas, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft; les fontaines, Beaumont, France; and Beyond the Brickyard, Archie Bray Foundation.  

Divergent but Parallel: The Ceramic Sculpture of Lucio Fontana and Fausto Melotti in Postwar Italy Marin Sullivan, Henry Moore Foundation Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Fine Art, History of Art, and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds (UK)
Joan Miró and the Artigases: A Phantasmagoric World of Living Monsters Jed Morse, Chief Curator, Nasher Sculpture Center
Isamu Noguchi Ceramics: A Kind of Antisculpture Catherine Craft, Adjunct Assistant Curator for Research and Exhibitions, Nasher Sculpture Center
Pablo Picasso: Life with Art Dakin Hart, Senior Curator, The Noguchi Museum, New York
A View from Today Panel Discussion featuring Nicole Cherubini, Artist, New York Ginger Geyer, Artist, Austin Brian Molanphy, Artist and Assistant Professor of Ceramics, Southern Methodist University, Dallas Jed Morse, Moderator