CSU Welcomes Magdalene Odundo to Virtual Symposium, Now Available to the Public 

Shattering Perspectives Exhibition; Photo courtesy Gregory Allicar Museum of Art

Madeleine Boyson


The Gregory Allicar Museum of Art and Colorado State University’s Art and Art History Department present recordings from a virtual symposium with Dame Magdalene Odundo DBE, OBE, MAThe two-day artist visit was held in conjunction with the exhibitions Shattering Perspectives: A Teaching Collection of African Ceramics (through April 25) and Richard De Vore and the Teaching Collection (through June 20). The recordings are now available on GAMA’s website.

Odundo is a Kenyan-born British studio potter acclaimed for her hand-coiled and -burnished ceramics and represented in nearly 50 international museumsShe lives in Surrey and is Chancellor of the University for the Creative Arts, where she taught from 1997–2014. Odundo was awarded the African Heritage Outstanding Achievement in the Arts award in 2012, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Ceramic Festival in 2019, and has received two honorary doctorates while serving on several art councils. Most recently, she was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire in 2020 for services to art and education.

In her keynote on February 12, Odundo used her recent retrospective, The Journey of Things, as a framework for expressing her inspirations and methods. She traced the development of her artistic voice from her childhood in Kenythrough foundational art school in England, where she visited with influential potters and was inspired to travel around Africa learning traditional techniques. 

Over time, Odundo developed her own aestheticinspired by early Egyptian images, Oceanic stone carvings, Impressionist painterssculptors El Anatsui and Constantin Brancusiand even Elizabethan ruffs. …[A]rt has a universal language that can be understood by everybody,” Odundo said. “The history of [an] object becomes the history that I imbue in my own work.”

Odundo also framed her philosophiesrevealing, The vessel is at the core of my trajectory, the core of my thinking, and whatever I make has to be hollow...the notion of containing and un-containing is very important. 

The ceramicist answered questions submitted by students after her lecture.

On February 13Odundo was joined by professor of Soil Science Suellen Melzer and Douglas Dawsoncollector and gallerist, as part of a multi-disciplinary discussion on clay. The panel was moderated by Del Harrow and David Riep on topics related to the GAMA exhibitions.

Richard De Vore Exhibition; Photo courtesy Gregory Allicar Museum of Art

Shattering Perspectives: A Teaching Collection of African Ceramics is co-curated by CSU students and associate professor of Art History David Riepand Richard De Vore and the Teaching Collection is curated by professors of Art Sanam Emami and Del Harrow. Both exhibitions interrogate the roles of teaching collections celebrate what Odundo said of her favorite medium: “Clay is one of the few materialsthat can capture [our] humanity.”

The symposium was organized by Harrow, Emami, and Riep with GAMA director Lynn Boland as part of the Critic and Artist Residency and the Scott Artist Lecture series, with co-sponsorship from the Lilla B. Morgan Memorial Endowment, the FUNd Endowment, and Colorado Creative Industries.

Odundo’s lecture and the panel discussion can be found at the GAMA website: https://artmuseum.colostate.edu/events/shattering-perspectives-symposium/ 

GREGORY ALLICAR MUSEUM OF ART invites individuals to engage with art and each other to inspire fresh perspectives and wonder. The museum is a catalyst for visual literacy and critical thinking that instills a passion for learning. For updated museum information, go to artmuseum.colostate.edu. 

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