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2010-2011 Fellowships Awardedline

Five ceramic artists were named winners of the Archie Bray Foundation's annual fellowship awards. Selected from a highly competitive field of candidates, the MJD Fellowship was awarded to Aaron Benson, of Knoxville, TN, the Matsutani Fellowship went to Nicholas Bivins of Orinda, CA, Jana Evans of Tempe, AZ, received the Taunt Fellowship, Mathew McConnell of Boulder, CO, received the Lilian Fellowship and the Lincoln Fellowship went to Courtney Murphy of Ashville, NC.

Each fellowship awards $5,000 and a one-year residency at the Foundation to artists of exceptional accomplishment and promise. Beneficiaries are expected to embrace the Bray experience of community and exchange, and have the opportunity to focus their attention towards producing and exhibiting a significant body of work.

Click here to view 2010-2011 Fellowship Monograph written by Susannah Isreal.


Aaron Benson, MJD Fellow  

Aaron Benson received his BFA in Ceramics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and was an intern at Anderson Ranch in Colorado. Benson uses a combination of clay, metal, wood, plastic and Styrofoam to create works that mimic architectural forms.  Most recently Benson received the 2010-2011 Bray MJD Fellowship.

“My sculpture talks specifically about the security I place in objects.  Using an assortment of different materials such as clay, steel, wood, and plastics, I create assemblages of objects that appear secure and stable, but have tones of uneasiness about them.  The tension comes in the forms of uncomfortable balance, and a visual juxtaposition of opposing parts.  Each piece establishes an element of visual “trust” with the viewer.    

I want people to see how order strengthens and stabilizes our daily life.  There is structure everywhere, from the makeup of our bodies, the stoplights that keep traffic flowing in our cities, and our daily routines that keep us scheduled.  Where would we be without rules and guidelines?  I thrive on organization and precision.  I find security within order and structure, in my work and in my life."

Man-made Sanctuary (Green), 2010
stoneware, wood, concrete, steel
21" x 2.5" x 3.5"
Nicholas Bivins, Matsutani Fellow  

Nicholas Bivins grew up in the Northern California Bay Area. He received his MFA from Ohio University, Athens, Ohio in 2009 and a BFA and BA from the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. Nicholas was an artist in residence at the Red Lodge Clay Center and most recently the recipient of the 2010-2011 Matsutani Fellowship at the Archie Bray Foundation.

Nicholas makes highly functional, uniquely handmade for use.. The reductive minimal aesthetic found in his work is abstracted from his appreciation for all things precisely done with style. The ceramic pieces are high-fire slip cast porcelain with glaze and decals; the trays the pots rest upon are CNC-milled MDF, with automotive paint.

“I make utilitarian pottery using a precise, clean, and efficient geometric language as I maintain an obsessive interest in looking for a personal definition of perfectly handmade. It is this fascination that propels me to practice my craft every day while continually searching for a satisfying balance of how much evidence of hand I put in, and how much hand I take out.”

To see more of Nicholas' artwork visit

Steins (4), 2011
porcelain, decals, MDF, automotive paint
11 " x 16" x 16"
Jana Evans, Taunt Fellow  

Jana Evans received her MFA from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona in 2010 and her BFA from Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, Texas, with a concentration in ceramics in 2002. She furthered her studies at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina and also worked as a studio assistant to ceramic artist Jerilyn Virden. She then moved to Lincoln, Nebraska as a post‐baccalaureate student in ceramics at the University of Nebraska. Most recently Jana is the recipient of the 2010-2011 Taunt Fellowship at the Archie Bray Foundation.

“My work revolves around the familiarity inherent in handmade vessels. I attempt to generate an intimate relationship of use by reaching out to others in the form of a handmade cup, bowl or jar. I use the implications of these objects to generate sociability and signal identity. For me, handmade objects act as a means of communicating to the user through form, function, surface and relationship. The objects aim to affirm that the value of their experience and the object go hand in hand.

The designs and patterns that decorate my pottery portray playful narratives and patterns. Raised glaze texture offers haptic discoveries to draw the user in for a closer look.”

To view more artwork of Jana's visits

Tumblers, 2009
porcelain, glaze

Mathew McConnell, Lilian Fellow  

Mathew McConnell holds an MFA in Ceramics from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a BFA in Studio Art from Valdosta State University. He has exhibited widely, including recent solo exhibitions at Unitec's Snowhite Gallery in Auckland, New Zealand and Vertigo Artspace in Denver, Colorado. In 2007, McConnell was a summer artist in residence at the Archie Bray Foundation and the recipient of the Sage Scholarship. In January of 2011, he returned to the Bray as the 2010–2011 Lillian Fellow.

“My recent works have been an attempt to understand art-making through the conscious re-making or other artists' work. Often using a singular form or image of another artist’s creation as a starting point, I recreate the work with alterations to suit my own aesthetic and conceptual preferences. The resultant forms vary between what could be mistaken as a facsimile of another artist’s work and original artworks with a source seemingly outside any individual referent. For me, to recreate is to create. When variations are possible, so too are revelations.”

To view more of Mathew's artwork go to


Brighter Than Real, 2009
ceramic and cardboard, leather, nail, wood, ceramic with acrylic paint,
glass, latex paint
66" h
Courtney Murphy, Lincoln Fellow

Courtney Murphy began working with clay while living in Brooklyn, New York. After several years of working for potters around the city, she moved to Portland, Oregon to study ceramics at Oregon College of Art & Craft. After graduating, she spent three and a half months at a ceramic residency in Denmark, surrounded by beautiful ceramics and a very beautiful landscape. In 2006, she returned to the US and began a two year ceramic residency at Odyssey Center for the Ceramic Arts in Ashville, North Carolina. 

Courtney makes hand-built and wheel-thrown tableware and decorative wall hangings. Her designs are influenced by simplified abstractions of nature, children's artwork, folk art, and mid-century modern forms and shapes. She is compelled by the variation found in handmade objects and likes the personal connection that they help to create.

“I am compelled by the variation found in hand-made objects; a slight change in the profile or image on a cup decides whether a person will be drawn to one cup over another. I enjoy the process of scratching into the clay to draw my images and designs. Because of this process, each piece created is unique, and there is a slight variation in each drawing.”

To see more work of Courtney's visit her website at

Nesting Set, 2010
8.5" x 15" x 15"

The Taunt, Lincoln, Lilian, Matsutani and MJD fellowships are awarded in each year and are made possible by Robert and Suzanne Taunt, Joan and David Lincoln, Osamu and Grace Matsutani, Mary Jane Davidson and an anonymous donor. The fellowships reflect the commitment of the donors to ceramic excellence and innovation, as well as their regard for the significance of the Bray's artistic community.

The Archie Bray Foundation was the first artist residency program in the United States devoted solely to ceramics. For over sixty years the Bray has brought together artists with diverse backgrounds and approaches to the medium, creating an environment conducive to artistic exchange and individual expression.