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Hunterdon Art Museum Explores Ceramic Innovation, Digital Existence, Poetic Cosmic Lore in New Exhibitions

originally published: 05/22/2023

Hunterdon Art Museum Explores Ceramic Innovation, Digital Existence, Poetic Cosmic Lore in New Exhibitions

Monica Ong, The Star Gazer, 2021, Die cutting, letterpress, gold foil on stock, Produced in collaboration with Boxcar Press, 7.5” x 7.5”, Courtesy of the artist. Based on the Soochow Astronomical Chart, this planisphere depicts the Chinese night sky as seen from the northern hemisphere.

(CLINTON, NJ) -- The Hunterdon Art Museum has unveiled three exhibitions on view to the public through September 3, 2023. “Claybash 2023” explores contemporary ceramics from artists across the U.S., “Nona Hershey: In the Cloud” echoes the pervasiveness of digital technology through watercolors, and “Monica Ong: Planetaria" presents the intricate confluence of poetry and visual art within the ancient Chinese cosmos. 

“Claybash 2023” - Claybash 2023,” debuting in the Main Gallery, marks the first in a series of triennial exhibitions showcasing a diverse range of contemporary ceramics from 42 innovative artists across the U.S. Jennifer Martin, executive director of The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, serves as this year's juror.

HAM's interest in ceramics traces back to the 1960s when Toshiko Takaezu, a Hunterdon County resident recognized as one of the world's most influential ceramic artists, actively participated at the museum. 

Hunterdon Art Museum Explores Ceramic Innovation, Digital Existence, Poetic Cosmic Lore in New Exhibitions

Michael High, Behind the Mask, 2021, Ceramic with slip, underglaze, oxide, stain, 19” x 14” x 14”, Courtesy of the artist.

Throughout its 70-year history, HAM has hosted numerous solo and group ceramic shows, many curated by Dr. Hildreth York and Ingrid Renard. “Claybash 2023” is dedicated to York, an art historian, curator, and longtime supporter of the museum, acknowledging the pivotal role she played in strengthening HAM and the profound impact her work and wisdom had on the museum's exhibitions program.

“Claybash 2023” is sponsored by Unity Bank.

“Nona Hershey: In the Cloud”In the First Floor Gallery, Nona Hershey: In the Cloud" explores, through watercolor painting,  the all-pervading influence of technology on our current societal landscape. Amidst a climate where many are persistently tethered to screens and coping with concerns raised by climate change, the pandemic, and social media, Hershey vividly encapsulates the omnipresent nature of our digital lifestyle.

Our excessive exposure to screens often shows diverse views of identical catastrophes simultaneously, intensifying our anxieties, heightened by the speed at which things unfold. Though we can't see the signals emitted by our devices, Hershey suggests their energy is palpable, shifting our perception of time and place. We now find ourselves constantly analyzing and digitizing our daily experiences, perceiving the world in a pixelated manner. Ironically, Hershey presents her views of technology by incorporating the natural world, specifically clouds in her paintings.

Hunterdon Art Museum Explores Ceramic Innovation, Digital Existence, Poetic Cosmic Lore in New Exhibitions

Nona Hershey, Sensors 9, 2021, Watercolor, graphite powder, gouache, 40” x 40”, Courtesy of the artist.

Nona Hershey's work is held in esteemed public collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Library of Congress. She has participated in over 200 international group exhibitions and showcased her work at prestigious galleries, including Mary Ryan Gallery and Galleria Il Ponte. Hershey has received residency grants from the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ireland and the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, among others. She was a Professor of Printmaking at Massachusetts College of Art and Design for 25 years.

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Learn more about Nona Hershey at

"Monica Ong: Planetaria” - Monica Ong: Planetaria curated by Dr. Hildreth York, will be featured in the Second Floor River Gallery. In Ong's work, art and poetry are inseparable, creating a unique form where ideas, content, and design come together in each artwork.

“Planetaria” is deeply influenced by the ancient Chinese cosmos and its related cultural philosophies. Ong connects these ancient ideas with today's world, revealing changing attitudes and behaviors. She uses her knowledge of astrology, astronomy, science, and poetry to critically examine traditional roles of women in society. This female gaze is a central theme in her work.

The show includes a variety of mediums, including images, star charts, pages from old-style medical books, and a collaborative tarot deck. The words used in “Planetaria” have special meanings; they not only provide information but also guide the viewer through the emotional, historical, and mythological elements of each piece.

Hunterdon Art Museum Explores Ceramic Innovation, Digital Existence, Poetic Cosmic Lore in New Exhibitions

Monica Ong, a Kundiman poetry fellow and Rhode Island School of Design graduate, is acclaimed for her innovative visual poetry. She is the author of "Silent Anatomies" (2015), which won the Kore Press First Book Award in poetry. Ong's work has been featured in prominent publications such as POETRY Magazine and Scientific American. Her visual poetry has been exhibited at renowned locations including the Poetry Foundation gallery in Chicago and the Center for Book Arts in New York. Her upcoming artist monograph is set to be published by The Artist Book Foundation.

Learn more about Monica Ong at

Exhibition Credits: Programs are made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Hunterdon County Board of County Commissioners, through funds administered by the Cultural & Heritage Commission; Hyde and Watson Foundation; Union Foundation; The Large Foundation, along with other corporations, foundations and individuals.

The Hunterdon Art Museum presents changing exhibitions of contemporary art, craft, and design in a 19th-century stone mill that is on the National Register of Historic Places.  A landmark regional art center since 1953, HAM showcases works by established and emerging contemporary artists and also offers a dynamic schedule of classes and workshops for children, teens, and adults.

Hunterdon Art Museum is located at 7 Lower Center Street in Clinton, New Jersey. The galleries are open to the public Wednesday - Sunday, 11:00am - 5:00pm. Admission: $7 adults, $5 seniors (65+)/military personnel/students, free for children under 12.

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