The Archie Bray is an international ceramic art center located outside Helena, Montana. Founded in 1951, the Bray was the first artist residency program in the U.S. devoted solely to ceramics. Beginning with founding directors Peter Voulkos and Rudy Autio, the Bray has served as the premier workplace for leading and emerging ceramic artists for nearly 60 years. Among the Bray’s numerous awards for achievement is the American Craft Council Award of Distinction. At the Bray artists come together from all over the world with a variety of experiences, aesthetic approaches, and cultural backgrounds. Twenty ceramists work at the Bray each year in residencies that extend from three months to two years. They receive free studio space, stipends, access to extensive firing facilities, and a stimulating environment that encourages creative and artistic exchange, expression and experimentation. The Bray also is committed to public education offering community classes and workshops; free public exhibitions, and a visiting artist program.
To make available to all who are seriously interested in any branch of the ceramic arts, a fine place to work.
For nearly six decades, the Archie Bray Foundation has been dedicated to the dream of three men, Archie Bray, Sr., Branson Stevenson and Peter Meloy. Bray, the owner of the Western Clay Manufacturing Company and an outstanding patron of the arts, envisioned an arts center and shared this idea with Meloy, a lawyer and potter in Helena, MT, and Stevenson, an artist from Great Falls, MT. In 1951, a pottery was set up in a corner of the brick drying sheds, and the foundation was established with the stated mission to provide “for all who are sincerely interested in ceramic arts, a fine place to work”. The Bray’s history parallels the development of ceramic arts in the United States. With Peter Voulkos and Rudy Autio as the founding resident directors, the Bray has been the premier workplace for leading ceramic artists and educators, including Carlton Ball, Ken Ferguson, Clary Illian, Jun Kaneko, Robert Sperry, Akio Takamori, Kurt Weiser, and Betty Woodman--many of whom continue to define the field.
The Archie Bray Studio Program offers the resident artists a supported environment, providing free studios, use of facilities, and direct financial support in which to create their artwork. It also allows them to work within a creative and communal environment. The Clay Business provides access to a broad range of materials and tools that are offered to the residents at subsidized costs while raising important funding for the organization.
The Archie Bray Exhibition Program offers the resident artists opportunities and venues to exhibit their work and gain exposure within the field while creating income for both the residents and the Bray. This support continues as they leave the Bray through the annual auction, the expanded sales gallery and both national and international exhibitions.
The Archie Bray Education Program offers resident artists formal teaching experience and contact with members of the community, many of whom are collectors and volunteers for the organization. It provides income for both the residents as instructors and the Bray. The Visiting Artist component of the education program also brings accomplished artists from all over the world to interact with and inspire the residents while providing financial support for the Bray through workshops and individual income for resident artists as workshop assistants.
The Archie Bray Foundation has an unparalleled impact on the national ceramics community, the state of Montana, and the city of Helena.
The Bray’s two-year residency model is unique in the United States and the artistic growth of its residents, more than 500 since 1951, is reflected in their success in the field when they leave. In addition to leading studio artists, former Bray residents serve as current and former faculty at colleges and universities throughout the United States, Canada, and Asia. Since 1996, 23 Bray residents have been named outstanding emerging artists by the National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts.
Free exhibitions throughout the year provide the general public with access to excellent and innovative ceramic art. The Bray’s new interactive website now extends access to this new work throughout cyberspace. Classes for both children and adults, taught by residents, provide an opportunity to work with many of the most talented ceramic artists in the country. The workshop program brings nationally-recognized artists to Helena to teach, further enriching the Bray’s educational offerings. The Bray clay business serves the residents, as well as potters and schools in the region, by making available clay, glaze materials and equipment.
The primary goal for the next two years is to continue to strengthen the resident artist program, including the educational and exhibition programs, while maintaining organizational stability and ensuring the Bray’s artistic leadership and sustainability. A Bray residency is about more than simply putting one’s hands in clay; it is about growth and experimentation, and the Bray constantly strives to facilitate that discovery in every possible way. Recognizing that past performance is not a guarantee of success in the future, the Bray plans to upgrade its firing facilities by introducing new kiln technologies that are more energy efficient (reducing energy costs by 40%) and will accommodate larger scale work. The Bray continues to develop funding support for its resident artists. The Resident Artist Scholarship Fund was established in 1997 and is managed as a quasi-endowment, allowing the Resident Artists to work in the Bray studios without rent. The Bray continues to develop individual scholarship and fellowship programs, including the Taunt, Lilian, Matsutani, MJD, and Lincoln Fellowships, which provide individual artists of exceptional merit and promise with a one-year $5000 award for a residency at the Bray. Non-fellowship residents receive a monthly stipend of $200. The Rudy Audio Endowment for Creative Initiatives, established in 2007, provides support for special projects that challenge individual resident artists to take exceptional creative risks. Finally, the Peter Voulkos Visiting Artist Fellowship fund annually brings a high profile, established ceramic artist to work with the resident artists at the Bray.
Steven Young Lee is a former Bray resident most recently teaching at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver, B.C., Lee brings great energy, intellect, artistry and international experience to his position. He received his MFA in Ceramics from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 2004. In 2004-5, he lectured and taught at numerous universities throughout China. In the United States, he has taught at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, the Clay Art Center in New York and the Lill Street Studio in Chicago. He has also managed a ceramics supply business in Chicago. His work has been exhibited in China, Canada and throughout the United States, and is held in private collections in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Montana.
Daniel Anderson, Vice President Richard Baiter, President John Balistreri Wally Bivins Toni Broadbent Sally Brogden Mike Casey Mae Nan Ellingson John Green Ayumi Horie Beth Lo Alan Nicholson Jess Parker, Secretary Susan Ricklefs Jon Satre Ann Shaner Robert Silverman Rebecca Sive Norma Tirrell Margaret Woo, Treasurer
2915 COUNTRY CLUB AVE
HELENA, MT 59602-9240
Phone: (406) 443-3502
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