Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident (ASPN) 2018
Maxwell Henderson (he/him), a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (MFA 2023), is a nationally recognized ceramics artist. Born in Arizona in 1996, Maxwell received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Arizona State University, Summa Cum Laude. He also studied at Penn State as a Special Student and has participated in several artist residencies. His work has been included in national exhibitions since 2018. As a biracial person who has known poverty, Maxwell connects with clay as a neglected and often overlooked material. Through his ceramics, he explores his search for identity and the potential of ceramic materiality, drawing inspiration from historical and contemporary ceramics as well as everyday moments.
As a biracial person who has only known poverty, I share a kinship with clay. It is ignored, literally walked on. Nevertheless, clay gave me conviction in my self-worth and taught me I deserve beautiful objects I wasn’t afforded to growing up. Through making pots, I learned to feel fulfillment by finding value in the mundane. It’s the humble necessity of ceramic vessels that made me aware of my humanity, but it also nurtured me in a world I don’t belong.
I often struggle with my identity because I exist somewhere in the middle, yet our artistic institutions only leave room for dichotomies (art v craft) and material hierarchies (paint > clay). To better understand who I am, I explore an eclectic range of ceramic materials, processes, and aesthetics.
It’s the sum of my personal circumstance and the chastisement/reverence I feel for art that shape why I work with clay, how I work with it, and what I look for when I make. For me, my work’s simply a collection of my formal interests and my curiosity for ceramic materiality’s potential. I use clay and glaze to make vessels that investigate forms, lines, volumes, textures, surfaces, and visual dichotomies that allude to what I notice around me. My work, particularly my tiles, are also opportunities for me to challenge conventional ceramic chemical compositions, explore compositional color schemes, and capture the sumptuous translucency and material flow of ceramics.