If the art world handed out gold medals, the artists of the BBAC Michigan Masters series might well challenge Olympian Michael Phelps. Ceramist Marie Woo, a superstar of Michigan’s art community, is the next to be celebrated with a Michigan Masters exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, which runs through Oct. 10.
Woo is a ceramic artist who bridges the cultures of East and West. It is said that “her work has developed from traditional ceramic ware into ceramic art.” Her sculptures are called “stimulating and inspirational.”
Besides being lauded for her artwork, she is considered an invaluable resource for Chinese folk pottery. Woo continues to work under a grant she received in 1998 from the Asian Cultural Council and Rockefeller Foundation to research and document Chinese folk pottery.
Woo’s influence in Michigan is wide. She studied with Maija Grotell at Cranbrook Academy of Art and taught at University of Michigan. She has conducted classes and workshops over the years at the BBAC. In 1991, she received the Michigan Art Foundation Artist Achievement Award.
She has taught at the University of Washington and Chulalonglorn University in Thailand. Woo was awarded a H. Rackham grant to Japan where she worked in Bizen with Toyo Kaneshige, considered a Japanese living national treasure.
Woo’s work is found in the permanent collections of the Ariana Museum, Geneva, Switzerland; Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece; the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, China; the Mikhina Institute of Art Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia; the Incheon Ceramic Museum, Korea; the Shigaraki International Ceramic Museum, Everson Museum, Syracuse, N.Y. and locally at the Detroit Institute of Art.
A Clay Odyssey is the last of three Michigan Masters exhibits for 2008. The first were Georg Vihos and Ruth Adler Schnee. Previous Michigan Masters include ceramist John Glick and sculptor Ray Katz in 2007, painter/printmaker Frank Cassara in 2006, watercolorist Electra Stamelos in 2005 and the drawings of Peter Gilleran in 2004.
Woo’s A Clay Odyssey is open to the public at no charge. There is a free Artist Talk lecture by Woo at 7 p.m. Oct. 2.