Enthusiasm Brings Festival to Silver City

Eleven years of connecting the state with mud


Silver City CLAY Festival Project Coordinator Alexa Tubbs said the festival, which is now in its 11th year, is the perfect fit for New Mexico where “we are rooted in clay as a culture.”

“Clay is very tangible,” she said. “It’s very personal. You get your hands in it, it lives under your nails, it’s on your clothes, it’s in your nose, it’s very much part of you.”

She’s excited to see all the pieces of the festival come together. On July 2, the official fundraiser kicks off at the Seedboat Center for the Arts. The auction includes live auction, drinks and getting together. Tickets for the 7 p.m. event are $35 and can be ordered at the website.

“We can talk about the workshops,” she said. “Participants will get a little take away. We get people together and help finance the festival.”

But then the real excitement begins on Monday, July 11 as a full week of CLAY begins. There are events every day, Tubbs said, with workshops and demonstrations starting in the mornings and exhibit openings and a lecture series every evening. On Wednesday night at the Silco Theater a new documentary is featured, “Mud Frontier: Architecture at the Borderlands,” is a film about 3D printing with clay from the artist’s viewpoint.

“We are really lucky to have all these powerful women artists working in clay right now,” Tubbs said. “They are digging deep into their own personal stories and histories.”

The theme of the juried exhibition is “Reflections in Clay,” which exhibits dual viewpoints in this world and is judged by Jamie Bates Slone, who is also giving a 5-day workshop during the festival.

Kids’ activities, in Bayard, are led by Katherine Allen. The children will get a book “Arrow to the Sun,” this and are instructed to create a mask using pattern or texture or part of the story.  On the second day, they are making an ice cream bowl and a spoon. By Friday they get to pick up their bowls and spoons and have an ice cream party.

“This festival is for everyone,” she said. “This festival is my art. What inspires me is seeing people come together over the love of this medium and the history that is clay.”

Courtney Michaud is Assistant Professor of Ceramics for the Western New Mexico University Expressive Arts Department. The festival and the university have always worked hand-in-hand to bring the event to Silver City.

“We have such a strong awareness for ceramic arts within our community,” she said. “It just makes perfect sense the expressive arts department at WNMU to collaborate.

Michaud said her department is hosting the headliner artist, Slone, who is primarily a figurative ceramic sculptor working primarily out of Oklahoma.

“She is just a fabulous, really respected artist,” she said. “What’s really nice is my students are able to be involved in a few different ways. It’s been just wonderful to have students be able to access this really well known nationally reputable artist who comes to them instead of them having to go to the artist.”

CLAY Fest has been a wonderful benefit of being able to teach at WNMU, Michaud said.

“For me, as a maker and a teacher, I get to witness some of those incredibly skilled people,” she said. “I feel really fortunate. Boy did I end up in the right place.”

See the back page of this issue for a schedule and visit to sign up for events.