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Michael Sherrill Retrospective - Arizona State University


In his delicately rendered sculptures, Michael Sherrill seeks to elicit a sense of wonder from viewers and to make them see things afresh. Working with clay, glass and metal, his exquisite floral forms have the allure of Martin Johnson Heade’s passionflower and orchid paintings and the botanical engravings of John James Audubon, at the same time they are remarkably new. This retrospective will illustrate the artist’s evolution over his more than 40-year career and highlight his contributions to contemporary art, craft and design. Primarily a self-taught artist, Sherrill moved from Charlotte, North Carolina to the western North Carolina mountains in 1974. His early influences came from the North Carolina folk pottery tradition and the community surrounding Penland School of Crafts and the Southern Highland Handicraft Guild. Sherrill began his career by making functional clay vessels in the 1970s and 1980s, but his desire for continued growth led him to create altered vessels of more abstracted form in the 1990s. Ultimately he shifted his focus to multimedia sculptures inspired by nature, as seen in “Temple of the Cool Beauty (Yucca).” He explores the beauty in natural growth and decay with bright colors, often through painstaking technical processes. Sherrill’s exceptional skill is based on his innovative approach to using tools, technology and his keen sense of materials together to achieve what he calls his “natural narratives.”

Sherrill’s artistic evolution led him to master techniques of metalworking and glass working and to invent new tools where needed. In 1995, out of the need for tools that did not exist, he designed Mudtools®, now a successful line of tools for potters and sculptors. He is a frequent instructor at Penland and has taught at craft schools and workshops across the country. In 2003, The Mint Museum honored him as Artist of the Year. Sherrill served a two-month residency at the John Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, WI in 2006. His work is in several major museum collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. As part of the World Ceramic Exposition/KOCEF, Sherrill was one of ten artists invited to build outdoor sculptures placed permanently at The Museum at Icheon World Ceramic Center, Icheon-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea, in 2004. He received a United States Artists Windgate Fellowship in 2010.

"Michael Sherrill Retrospective" is organized by The Mint Museum. Funding for the exhibition catalog and national tour provided by the Windgate Foundation. Additional funding for the ASU Art Museum’s presentation is supported by the Windgate Foundation as part of the Windgate Contemporary Craft Initiative.

Join us for an intimate conversation with artist Michael Sherrill to learn more about his artistic practice and career, Tuesday, March 3 at 6:30 p.m. at Artisan Court at the Brickyard.

February 25, 2020 by Scott Allen

Hands in Clay Workshop with Michael Sherrill

Join Michael Sherrill, a materials-based artist who primarily experiments in the media of clay, metal, and glass, for a two-day workshop that will explore techniques using porcelain and slips to create transitional color. Inspired in his own work by observations of the natural world where color is always in motion – transitioning from one color to the next, Michael will demonstrate post-firing surface techniques using diamond abrasives to remove material and polish the surface. In his practice he uses extruders and a lot of hand building techniques, but artists whose practice is at the potter’s wheel will also discover techniques applicable to their work. During the weekend workshop, participants will work with porcelain at cones 6 and 7.

In addition to the two-day workshop, Michael will be giving an artist talk, A Visual Presentation and Conversation with Michael Sherrill and Joan Takayama-Ogawa, on Friday night from 7-9pm. This event is free to the public! Check out the Eventbrite invitation for more information and to rsvp.


Sa, Su


10:00AM to 4:00PM


Feb 22, 2020 to Feb 23, 2020

February 19, 2020 by Scott Allen
Tags: Art

Surface To Form

6th Annual South Carolina Clay Conference, February 28, 29, March 1, 2020.

  • Special discounted price for college and university students
  • Participate in SC Clay Con Pottery Sale                                                                                                 
  • Be a part of the growing community of potters in SC

For more information or to register go to

January 21, 2020 by Scott Allen

Michael Sherrill at The Penland School of Craft - The Unified Object: Color, Form, Surface - CLAY SUMMER SESSION 6 AUGUST 9-21, 2020

In the natural world, color is always in motion, transitioning from one color to the next. This workshop will explore techniques using porcelain and slips to create transitional color. I will demonstrate post-firing surface techniques using diamond abrasives to remove material and polish the surface. We’ll cover the use of extruders and some handbuilding techniques and make a variety of sample pieces. Artists who work at the wheel will also discover applicable techniques. Students will be encouraged to bring their favorite handbuilding tools—particularly for mark making, texturing, carving, and embossing. Electric firing. All levels. Code 06CA

Penland School of Craft

January 13, 2020 by Scott Allen

NBC Channel 4 Washington, DC

Artist Michael Sherrill takes glass, metal and clay and molds them into creations that could make nature long for his gifts. His works are on display at the Renwick Gallery in D.C. through Jan. 5.

Check out this great spot on Channel 4 in Washington, DC.



Painting by Micah Sherrill

December 23, 2019 by Scott Allen



From all of us here at Mudtools, Happy Holidays!

Thank you for choosing and using Mudtools. We love our customers and you’ve made 2019 a terrific year. We‘re proud to be a part of your creative journey and wish you the best in 2020.

December 23, 2019 by Scott Allen

International Academy of Ceramics

It is an amazing honor to become a new member of International Academy of Ceramics (IAC). It is with gratitude that I thank everyone for your help and support. Congratulations to all who became new IAC members.

November 06, 2019 by Scott Allen

Michael Sherrill using an Atomizer Sprayer

Michael Sherrill at Centro De Arte, Curaumilla, Chile


October 15, 2019 by Scott Allen
Tags: Art Learn



Artist talk with Michael Sherrill

Peruse the Renwick Gallery’s exhibition Michael Sherrill Retrospective, then join the artist for a discussion about his work. Made primarily of clay, metal, and glass, Sherrill talks about how his artworks explore our relationship with these materials. He also shares the development of his clay tool line, MudTools. The talk is followed by a question and answer session with the artist.

Photos by Scott Allen at Hang the Moon Photography.

Categories - After Five, Lectures & Discussions
Building - Renwick Gallery
Event Location - 2nd floor, Rubenstein Grand Salon

Co-sponsor - Renwick Gallery

Cost - Free; walk-in

Part of series - Featured Programs


FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2019, 12-1PM

Nature Walk with Michael Sherrill, Golden Triangle BID, and Smithsonian Gardens

Take a stroll through the Renwick Gallery’s Golden Triangle neighborhood with artist Michael Sherrill, horticulturist James Gagliardi from Smithsonian Gardens, and David Suls, senior director of planning and policy at the Golden Triangle BID. The group leads a walking tour to explore the innovative rain garden landscaping in the neighborhood. Be sure to check out the exhibition Michael Sherrill Retrospective at the Renwick to see how Sherrill’s artwork reimagines the natural world in creative new ways.

Meet in front of Renwick Gallery, Pennsylvania Avenue.

Categories - Gallery Talks & Tours, 

Building - Renwick Gallery

Event Location - First floor lobby

Co-sponsor - Renwick Gallery

Cost - Free; walk-in


September 10, 2019 by Scott Allen
Tags: Art

Washington Post Review of Michael Sherrill Retrospective

By Mark Jenkins
August 30 at 8:00 AM


North Carolina ceramist Michael Sherrill set out to make if not a better teapot, at least a more distinctive one. The Renwick Gallery’s “Michael Sherrill Retrospective” demonstrates clearly that he succeeded. But it’s what he did next that makes this exhibition so memorable.

The show, organized by Charlotte’s Mint Museum, covers more than 40 years in the largely self-educated artist’s life. It includes 73 items, beginning with inventive but relatively conventional pieces made in the 1970s and culminating with recent mixed-media, nature-inspired creations in which form entirely dispenses with function.

Sherrill’s tea vessels are notable for their fanciful contours and shimmering glazes, which can simulate gray-silver metal or produce rainbows of graduated hues. As the artist continued to innovate, the pots got bigger and their parts more exaggerated. These agreeably cartoonish creations are far too large for conventional use, with enormous spouts that compete for attention with the object’s central part.

Some of the teapots and other items, among them oddly beautiful “oil cans” that exalt industrial design, evoke myth, literature and Sherrill’s own background. “Right and Left Brain” comprises two identically shaped vessels, one multicolored and the other black-and-white. The artist, who is dyslexic, has written a chapter of his autobiography in fired clay.

The ceramist has spent his adult life in the North Carolina mountains and now maintains a studio near the evocatively named town of Bat Cave. Over time, the surrounding landscape has figuratively infiltrated his studio. Much of Sherrill’s later work borrows motifs from the forest and expands into other materials. The show’s final gallery blooms with exquisite floral arrangements in porcelain, bronze and glass. Most of the inspirations are botanical, but in one 3-D tableaux coils a snake rendered in green glass.

Sherrill hasn’t entirely forgotten teapots. There’s a lovely, if not especially functional, 2005 one that emulates the soft shape of a folded elephant-ear plant leaf. But this potter’s journey has sent him far from the housewares department and deep into the woods.

August 31, 2019 by Scott Allen
Tags: Art