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Culture notes: Birmingham Museum dedicates symposium, gallery to ceramics; Schwartz Center celebrates 10 years

By Howard Pousner

Already boasting one of the Southeast’s largest ceramics collections, featuring more than 15,000 objects, Alabama’s Birmingham Museum of Art is positioning itself to make pottery an even larger priority and presence.

  • On Feb. 22-23, it will host its first international ceramics symposium, the Bunting Biennial Ceramics Symposium. The theme of the inaugural edition will be “Clay Embodied: Ceramics and the Human Form,” exploring the relationship between ceramics and the human body by considering the subject in a broad array of historical and geographical contexts.

Among the notable artists and scholars making presentations will be ceramic artist Magdalene Odundo, known for her hand-built, reduction-fired ceramics, giving the keynote address about her work on Feb. 22. The program on Feb. 23 opens with writer, critic and collector Garth Clark making a presentation on the past, present and future of the vessel form.

  • Coinciding with the symposium, the museum will open a permanent collection gallery dedicated to African ceramics. The new space will feature 50 works from the recently acquired 400-work Dick Jemison Collection of African Ceramics.

“While there have been temporary exhibitions of African ceramics at several museums, it is almost impossible to find a large, permanent gallery space dedicated to this art form, primarily because many of the pots are so large,” said Emily Hanna, Birmingham Museum’s curator of the arts of Africa and the Americas. “Exhibiting 50 different pots in a single gallery reveals the rich variety of shape, pattern and surface texture on these marvelous objects.”

Emory’s Schwartz Center celebrates first decade with events

Emory University’s Donna and Marvin Schwartz Center for Performing Arts will celebrate its 10th anniversary in February with programs that include:

  • Pianist Yefim Bronfman performing Schumann, Brahms and Prokofiev, followed by a champagne reception, on Feb. 2.
  • Saxophonist Victor Goines bringing his New Orleans vibe to the Emory Jazz Fest, Feb. 8-9. Goines and the Gary Motley Trio will perform Feb. 8 in a ticketed concert. On Feb. 9, Goines will play with the Emory Big Band and the Emory University Symphony Orchestra (free). They will premiere an original work by Motley, in honor of the anniversary.
  • Creativity Conversation with Paul Simon and Billy Collins, Feb. 12. The iconic songwriter and the former U.S. Poet Laureate discuss the creative process, part of the 2013 Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature. (Sold out.)
  • “Watching Chekhov Watching,” a performance of original adaptions of Anton Chekhov’s short stories (with an audience talkback), Feb. 15.
  • Violinist-composer Daniel Bernard Roumain (also known as DBR) in concert Feb. 22.
  • Monica Bill Barnes presenting an evening of contemporary dance (with audience talkback), Feb. 28.

Tickets, information: 404-727-5050,

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