Ceramics Symposium: Toward Future Bodies at the Gardiner Museum

Jess Riva Cooper, Sporophore, 2023. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Symposium: Toward Future Bodies

June 9 – 10, 2023
Gardiner Museum, Toronto
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Attention artists, curators, makers, programmers, and ceramics lovers! The Gardiner Museum is hosting Toward Future Bodies, a symposium supported by the Raphael Yu Centre for Canadian Ceramics and in collaboration with A-B Projects. The symposium takes place during the International Ceramic Art Fair (ICAF) and features an all-star roster of local and international speakers, fostering a deeper appreciation for Canadian ceramics within a larger artistic ecosystem.


David R. Harper, Carmela Laganse, Janet Macpherson, Jess Riva-Cooper, Julie Hollenbach, KC Adams, Mary Anne Barkhouse, Nehal El-Hadi, Nicole Seisler, Nurielle Stern, Saffronia Downing, Sameer Farooq, Stacy Jo Scott, Stephanie Hanes, Susan Collett, and Suzanne Carte


Friday June 9, 2023

What’s The Function?
Keynote speaker: Nicole Seisler
6:00 – 8:00 pm

Ceramic objects have always been in dialogue with the world around them—the cup in the hand, the pot ensconced by fire, the sherd buried in soil—but now more than ever artists worldwide are deliberately exploring how objects, the materials from which they are made, and the places or conditions from which they emanate can exemplify and animate the interconnectedness of the world with/in which we reside. In this talk, Los Angeles-based artist/educator/curator Nicole Seisler examines these shifts, thereby reframing the meaning of ‘functional’ ceramics in the contemporary field.

Saturday June 10, 2023

Doors open, registration, continental breakfast
9:30 – 10:00 am

Welcome remarks by Sequoia Miller and Nicole Seisler
10:00 am

Panel: Ecological Bodies
Speakers: KC Adams, Saffronia Downing and Sameer Farooq
Moderator: Nehal El-Hadi
10:15 – 11:30 am

This panel will explore the ways we emerge from, relate to, and return to the earth. The minerals and water that enter our body also form the geology that surrounds us; how do we see ourselves as water and rock, not just connected to the geology of this planet, but actually constitutive of it? How do we leave our collective memory in the land, and how does its memory mark us, through objects and other traces?

Panel: Animal Bodies (Part 1): Subsumed
Speakers: Mary Anne Barkhouse, Susan Collett and Jess Riva-Cooper
Moderator: Carmela Laganse
11:30 am – 12:45 pm

Humans often prefer to believe that they are in control—of themselves, of their circumstances, of their futures. The truth is that much, if not most, lies beyond our control. This panel considers the ways in which all animal bodies are subsumed by time and place, as well as the possibilities that can arise from such inseparability.

Lunch provided in the Terrace Room
12:45 – 2:00 pm

Presenting: The Raphael Yu Collection
Speaker: Julie Hollenbach
2:00 – 2:30 pm

This presentation will focus on a group of artworks in the Raphael Yu Collection at the Gardiner Museum to explore how Canadian artists have been engaging with questions of human and animal autonomy and interdependence.

Panel: Animal Bodies (Part 2): Constructed
Speakers: David Harper, Janet Macpherson, Nurielle Stern
Moderator: Suzanne Carte
2:30 – 3:45 pm

The constructed animal body lies somewhere between the real and the imagined. The artists on this panel approach this liminal space by composing fragments, staging a still life, or entering a dreamscape. Collectively, they question how the animal body exists beyond the physical realm.

3:45 – 4:00 pm

Presenting: Future Bodies
Speaker: Stephanie Hanes
4:00 – 4:45 pm

Artist Stephanie Hanes delves into the radical place of in-betweens, movement, and how futuristic bodies can open access to unknown aspects of ourselves and the politics of our inter-relation. There will be a guided Q&A following the presentation.

Presenting: Limitless Bodies
Speaker: Stacy Jo Scott
4:45 – 5:30 pm

If each of us is a universe, our bodies may not stop but rather expand. Could our container be limitless? Do the digital and ethereal point to a new horizon? Join Stacy Jo Scott for a discussion on the limitless body. There will be a guided Q&A following the presentation.

Closing Remarks
Sequoia Miller and Nicole Seisler
5:30 pm

Stephanie Hanes, Transfiguration, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

About the Gardiner Museum

The Gardiner Museum brings together people of all ages and communities through the shared values of creativity, wonder, and community that clay and ceramic traditions inspire.

We engage audiences with exhibitions, programs, and hands-on classes, while stewarding a significant permanent collection. We interpret historical ceramics to emphasize their relevance today, and champion emerging and established Canadian artists and their role in the broader world. The Gardiner Museum innovates through clay education, as we bring together the experience of making with a deeper understanding of the art of ceramics.

We believe in making, looking, and thinking through clay.

The Gardiner Museum has a collection of over 4,000 objects from the Ancient Americas, Europe, Japan and China, as well as contemporary works with an emphasis on leading Canadian artists. It is among the few museums in the world focused on ceramics and is one of the world’s most notable specialty museums.

For more information, please visit: gardinermuseum.com.


The Gardiner Museum is an accessible venue with a ramp from the street leading up to the main lobby entrance. The entrance is accessible via two sets of double doors with an access button. Accessible restrooms are available on the second and third floors. Third floor washrooms are also gender neutral.

The Gardiner strives at all times to provide goods and services in a way that respects the dignity and independence of people with disabilities. We are committed to giving people with disabilities the same opportunity to access and benefit from our services in the same place and in a similar way as other customers whenever possible. We welcome your feedback.


Gardiner Museum
111 Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2C7

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