Judith Salomon, Ceramist
1990 CLEVELAND ARTS PRIZE FOR VISUAL ARTS
Judith Salomon had already won her place
in the history of American ceramics when she was awarded the Cleveland
Arts Prize in 1990. Her hand-built pieces, fashioned as functional
pots, had been exhibited all over the country. She had received a
prestigious National Endowment for the Arts grant (1981) and two Ohio
Arts Council Individual Artist fellowships (1981, 1987). She had been
teaching for 13 years at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she
served as department chair in ceramics; and had led workshops
throughout the U.S., and in Osaka, Japan. The arc of her career has
only continued to climb ever since.
a native of Rhode Island, says she had been drawn to the decorative
arts ever since she can remember. Her father was a soil chemist at the
University of Rhode Island, and her exposure to European culture and
architecture during his sabbaticals in England and Portugal further
fueled her imagination. When she took her first throwing class, at age
15, she knew she had discovered the vessels that could hold her
Salomon went on
to earn a B.F.A. from the Rochester Institute of Technology (1975) and
an M.F.A. from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred
University (1977). Following graduation, she was named associate
professor at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Cleveland—and the institute—have been home ever since.
artwork, inspired by her love of architecture, is an exploration of
what she calls “containers and containment. How insides and outsides
work together.” She builds each piece by hand, creating work that
suggests sculpture: Although all of her pieces “hold something,” they
are clearly designed for form over function.
early work, mostly plates and bowls, had a distinctive look: brightly
colored geometric shapes floated on fields of white. Over time, she
experimented with new shapes, bolder lines, warmer tones, more
contrast and one-color pieces, including, most recently, all-white
ones. She began mixing matte and high-gloss glazes, sometimes in the
same piece. In her hands, familiar objects, such as teacups and vases,
held playful surprises.
work came to national prominence during her third or fourth year in
Cleveland. Recalling a professor’s advice to “make sure your work
leaves the studio,” she donated a piece for auction at the Archie Bray
Foundation in Helena, Montana, where she was in summer residency. The
high bidder was Garth Clark, a dealer who would show her work in his
Los Angeles and New York galleries for the next 12 years. He would also
include her in his books, American Potters Today (1986) and American Ceramics 1876 to Present (1987).
the decade that followed that serendipitous break, she exhibited her
work in 24 shows. Her reach would expand to Canada, Taiwan, New
Zealand, England and Wales. Her collectors included the Cleveland
Museum of Art, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Los Angeles
County Museum of Art.
would argue that Salomon’s talent in the studio is matched by her skill
in the classroom. If she gets high marks from her students, she says,
it’s because she believes she learns as much from their questions as
they do from her teaching. She and they share in the creative process,
growing side-by-side, as artists.
She is equally concerned about her students’ personal growth, giving them a secure place to “find out who they're going to be”—and what they might do with their art.
Working with colleague William Brouillard,
she guides them through the art world, helping them find residencies
and graduate programs. She has also lent support to emerging artists at
SPACES, Cleveland’s alternative gallery space, where for many years she
served as trustee.
addition to working fulltime at the institute, Salomon maintains a
studio in Cleveland's eclectic Tremont neighborhood, which borders the
city’s industrial heart. Its mix of old and renovated architecture
continues to inspire new work, including major commissions from noted
Cleveland collector Peter B. Lewis, and from University Hospitals of Cleveland.
1994, Salomon and her husband, Jerome Weiss, added “Mom” to her growing
list of job descriptions. Since then, her work pace has slowed a bit,
but the artist continues to do what she loves: exploring the aesthetic
For more on the artist visit www.cia.edu