Once a year, the editorial staff spends a few days looking through all of the submissions for our annual Emerging Artist feature. We each pull out the entries we want to consider, put them all together in a group, and start discussing the specific and relative merits of each. After several rounds of this, we are able to get the group down to a very strong 25–30 artists. At this point, it is best to step away and come back in a day or two. The final winnowing is fraught with peril; there is much discussion, cases made for and against, personal preferences challenged, heated arguments ranging from how much space is available to the overall balance of styles, from photographic quality to whether or not someone really should be considered an emerging artist. Sometimes we step away for another day and revisit with hopefully cooler heads. This is different from our typical editorial review meetings, which are based on a very well-established—you might say tighter—set of procedures and policies, based on specific content areas and their respective formats, while this seems a little more like re-inventing the wheel every year—and that’s exciting!
We are reminded that there is a lot of very good work being made by folks just coming into their own, and we always end up with a renewed sense of excitement and anticipation about what studio ceramics will have in store for us in the coming year. It’s not that we don’t pay attention to those who are “emerging” throughout the year, but it’s nice to see so many all at once. And I would be remiss if I did not thank all 473 people who submitted work for consideration. That is the largest number of submissions we have had to date, and it means that there is an increasing number of you who are actively pursuing studio ceramics as a serious career path. Keep it up! At the same time that it’s exciting to see all of that creative evidence in volume, it is really nice when we fill out the May issue with successful artists who have already emerged, like Jenny Mendes (Studio Visit, p. 26), Margaret Boozer (Earth Matters, p. 30), or even artists who have passed but whose influence remains (Betty Feves, p. 38 or The Julia Terr Annual, p. 96). My guess is that one or all of these artists may even be “new” to many readers, and that speaks to the fact that there always is something more to discover in ceramics; always something emerging from what came before; and always something each of us can pass to those coming after us.
So, you’re not the “new kid” on the block anymore (and maybe you never were), and maybe you’re never going to have a full-time career in the studio (perhaps you don’t even want one), but I’m telling you that doesn’t mean you have no influence. In the same way that some of the Emerging Artists in this issue may not be working in clay five years from now (who’s to say?), you may end up hitting your ceramic stride in very unexpected ways that you could never plan given where you are and what you know today. Be open to possibilities and opportunities, look at as much work as you can (of course, start with this issue), and work toward emerging in your own way. — Sherman Hall, editor