ASU Art Museum announces new ceramics curator

portrait of Garth Johnson

The ASU Art Museum and ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center have announced that artist, writer, curator and educator Garth Johnson will be joining the museum as curator of ceramics.

“We are overjoyed to have Garth Johnson joining the ASU Art Museum team,” says Gordon Knox, ASU Art Museum director. “The global reputation of the Ceramics Research Center is such that we had candidates from across the country, Europe and Asia vying for the position, and front-and-center among that august group was the extraordinary Johnson.

"His deep knowledge of the field is animated and activated by a bright, innovative and even irreverent approach to research and curating. Garth’s energy and broad recognition will bring new life to the (center) in its new location, while continuing to advance its global position as a unique and highly respected collection and research center.”

Johnson joins the museum from The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, where he served as curator of artistic programs, overseeing exhibitions, artist residency programs and community engagement. Among his recent curatorial projects for The Clay Studio are: “The Clay Studio: Forty Years” (2014), a special exhibition chronicling the history of The Clay Studio; “Matthew Metz, Linda Sikora and Sanam Emami” (2014), an exhibition of pottery by three contemporary masters; and “Pottery by Design,” part of a trio of exhibitions specifically crafted for DesignPhiladelphia 2014.

Before joining The Clay Studio, Johnson served as an associate professor at College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California. He received his bachelor of fine arts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and his master of fine arts from Alfred University in 2000.

Johnson is a self-described “craft activist” whose research explores craft’s influence and relevance in the 21st century. His weblog, “Extreme Craft,” is a “Compendium of Art Masquerading as Craft, Craft Masquerading as Art, and Craft Extending its Middle Finger.” His first book, “1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse: Remake, Restyle, Recycle, Renew” was published by Quarry in November 2009. He has also contributed to several books, including “Handmade Nation,” “Craftivity,” “Craft Corps” and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s upcoming book, “Nation Building.” His writing and work will be featured in a new book by Paul Scott, “Horizon: Transferware and Contemporary Ceramics,” to be published by Arnoldsche this winter.

Johnson is currently a director-at-large on the board of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA). He is leading a task force for a publication that will anthologize contributions to the NCECA Journal for their 50th anniversary in 2016.

“Joining the ASU Art Museum and the Ceramics Research Center has been a dream of mine for quite some time,” says Johnson. “The mission of the museum and the strengths of the ceramics collection dovetail perfectly with my research, writing and curating. I look forward to joining such a vibrant, creative community.”

Johnson will be in attendance at a special event at the ASU Art Museum Brickyard on Oct. 7, which coincides with the closing reception for the Brickyard’s current exhibition, “These Are Some of My Favorite Things.” The public reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. is free; members of the public and museum patrons are invited to attend and meet Johnson in person before the official start of his curatorship in December 2014.

To learn more about the museum, call 480-965-2787 or visit