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Breaking the Mold: The Sinker Ceramics Collection

Breaking the Mold: The Sinker Ceramics Collection is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Curatorial Research and Administrative Assistant Thaís Wenstrom. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Elizabeth Halsted endowment fund.

January 29, 2022–July 31, 2022

About the Exhibition

Breaking the Mold: The Sinker Ceramics Collection highlights a remarkable gift made to the MSU Broad Art Museum of 46 contemporary ceramic works from collector and Michigan native John Sinker Jr. As part of the museum’s launch of its 10-year anniversary schedule of exhibitions and programs, this exhibition highlights an important facet of the museum’s collection. It also invites a conversation around artistic inspiration, the relationship of contemporary art to more historical periods, and the unique ways that the ceramic medium embodies and communicates ideas today.

The exhibition presents a selection of over 10 works from the Sinker Ceramics Collection, ranging from sculptures to vessels to casserole dishes, by artists who were highly regarded among their peers and critics nationwide. To better explore the ceramic traditions that shaped these artists’ practices, each artwork from the Sinker Ceramics Collection is paired with another work from the MSU Broad Art Museum collection (or other campus collection) to demonstrate the multitude of influences and art historical references embodied within—from ancient Greek vessels, Asian ceramics, Islamic tiles, and Mesoamerican figurines to modernist abstraction.

Collector John Sinker Jr. (1941–2018) worked at an automobile plant for the entirety of his career. He fed his ceramics passion by collecting art from local and national galleries, and often from artists directly. Sinker’s enthusiasm for ceramics was translated into a versatile collection that speaks to different art histories, as well as contemporary events and issues. Under the guidance and leadership of Paul Kotula, associate professor of ceramics at Michigan State University, this significant gift of ceramics has become a very important addition to the MSU Broad Art Museum collection and has served as a teaching library for MSU ceramics students since 2014.

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