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International Ceramic Symposiums, 1973, 1975 and 1985

The U.S. International Ceramic Symposiums in Tennessee

In 1963 the first International Ceramic Symposium was established in Austria by ceramicist Kurt Ohnsorg with the idea of bringing ceramic artists from different countries and with different point of views to work together for a month fostering a creative exchange of ideas, techniques, and philosophies. The Symposium is designed as a chance for participants to have time to pursue whatever ideas they wanted, to work beside some of the world’s premiere ceramicists, to engage in dialogue and discussions with other artists throughout their own creative process, and to build a support network for ceramic art that crossed international borders. This model proved to be very successful for the participants involved, and the idea of the Symposium quickly caught on in many other European countries.

It was when the Tennessee ceramicist Lewis Snyder participated in the 1970 International Ceramic Symposium in Beychne, Czechoslovakia, that he was encouraged to build the U.S. branch of the Symposium. In order to make it official, he obtained legal recognition and support from both the Verband International Ceramic Symposia in Austria and the International Academic of Ceramics in Switzerland, the two bodies that organized European Symposiums. In the spring of 1971, the Tennessee Arts Commission pledged its support for the promotion and establishment of the U.S. International Ceramic Symposiums. A total of three were held in Tennessee—the first in Memphis in 1973, the second in Gatlinburg in 1975, and the third and final in Smithville in 1985.

1973 International Ceramic Symposium, group image below

The First U.S. International Ceramic Symposium took place from July 15th through August 12th, 1973, at the Memphis Academy of Arts (now known as the Memphis College of Art) in Memphis, Tennessee, and was jointly sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Memphis Academy of Arts, and Southwestern at Memphis. A total of 25 artists from 13 countries participated in the Symposium which culminated in an exhibition of over 250 works, of which 206 were selected to be accessioned into the permanent collection of the Tennessee Arts Commission and maintained by the Tennessee State Museum.

Group photo from ICS 1973. The participants in the Symposium were:

1. Melis Van Der Sluis, Hamilton, New Zealand

2. Walter Hyleck, Berea, Kentucky

3. Fred Shepard, Murray, Kentucky

4. assistant

5. Patriciu Mateescu, Bucharest, Romania

6. Pompeo Pianezzola, Nove, Vicenza

7. Eileen Lewenstein, London, England

8. Ildiko de Balas, Brussels, Belgium

9. Tony Franks, Sheffield, Great Britian

10. Roy Overcast of the Tennessee Arts Commission

11. Imre Schrammel, Budapest, Hungary

12. Kurt Spurey, Wein, Austria

13. Peter Sohngen, Memphis, Tennessee

14. Sylvia Hyman, Nashville, Tennessee

15. Gerda Gruber (Spurey), Wein, Austria

16. Anna Malicka-Zamorska, Wroclaw, Poland

17. Silvia Defraoui, Vufflens-le-Chateau, Switzerland

18. Denise Frankinet, Rochehaut, Belgium

19. Colette Delozanne, Caracas, Venezuela

20. Santo Mignosa, Calgary, Alberta

21. Cynthia Bringle, Penland, North Carolina

22. assistant

23. Lewis Snyder, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

24. Ken Vavrek, Philadephia, Pennsylvania

25. Dumitru Radulescu, Bucharest, Romaina

26. Tim Mather, Hudson, Illinois

27. Eric Snyder (Lewis’s son)

Not pictured: Elly Kuch, Nurenberg, Germany

1975 International Ceramic Symposium, video and group image below

The Second U.S. International Ceramic Symposium took place in 1975 from mid-August to mid-September at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Jointly sponsored by the Tennessee Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and the University of Tennessee, this Symposium brought together 12 artists from 7 countries. The approximately 150 ceramic works created during the Symposium were shown in a month-long exhibit in Arrowmont’s gallery, followed by a number of traveling exhibitions titled Clay Confluence, after which half of the works were selected to be accessioned into the permanent collection of the Tennessee Arts Commission and maintained by the Tennessee State Museum.

A 16mm film of the Symposium was produced by local filmmakers Jacob Eleasari and Curt Hahn, which was showed afterwards at several film festivals. A copy of this film was digitized by Lewis Snyder in 2009.

Group photo from ICS 1975. The participants in this Symposium were:

1. Sandra Blain, Knoxville, Tennessee

2. Oldrich Asenbryl, Wales, Great Britian

3. Victor Brosz, Calgary, Canada

4. Sándor Horváth, Romhany, Hungary

5. Robert Winokur, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

6. Michael Cohen, Amherst, Massachusetts

7. Abbas Magaji Ahuwan, Nigeria

8. Joe Bova, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

9. Jim Darrow, Knoxville, Tennessee

10. Marc Hansen, Kalamazoo, Michigan

11. Joan Campbell, Perth, Western Australia

12. Carmen Dionyse, Gent, Belgium

13. Roy Overcast of the Tennessee Arts Commission

The 1975 Symposium was the subject of much state and national attention, garnering a letter from sitting U.S. President Gerald Ford.

1985 International Ceramic Symposium

The Third U.S International Ceramic Symposium took place from August 4th to September 1st, 1985 at the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, Tennessee. Sanctioned by the International Academy of Ceramics and chaired by Tennessee ceramicist Sylvia Hyman, the Symposium brought together 18 artists from 15 different countries for a month long exchange of ideas and production of work which resulted in a number of subsequent traveling exhibitions.

The artists who participated in the 1985 Symposium were:

Janet Mansfield, Sydney, Australia
Royce McGlashen, Nelson, New Zealand
Les Manning, Provost, Alberta, Canada
Franz Stahler, West Germany
Enrique Mestre, Spain
Takako Araki, Japan
Paul Dresang, Edwardsville, Illinois
Susan Eisen, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey
Rimas VisGirda, Des Moines, Iowa
Norio Shibata, Japan
Ulla Viotti, Sweden
John Odgers, Australia
Marta Taberyova, Prague, Czechoslovakia
Hanibal Salvaro, Yugoslavia
Borghildur Oskarsdottir, Iceland
Gerda Gruber (Spurey), Venezuela
Anna Malicka-Zamorska, Wroclaw, Poland
Sylvia Hyman, Nashville, Tennessee