June 23, 2021
5 minute read

The Crocker Art Museum Appoints Rachel Gotlieb, Ph.D. as the First Ruth Rippon Curator of Ceramics

Rachel Gotlieb. Photograph by Barbara Stoneham.

Sacramento, CA, June 23, 2021 – The Crocker Art Museum is delighted to announce Rachel Gotlieb, Ph.D., as the first Ruth Rippon Curator of Ceramics. The Crocker’s international ceramics collection is one of the largest in the United States and includes works dating from prehistoric to contemporary periods. Gotlieb, a leading ceramics specialist, will oversee acquisitions, exhibitions, and scholarship, and help bring the collection to even greater prominence nationally and internationally.

Gotlieb's role is a new position established through the generosity of Anne and Malcolm McHenry in honor of Ruth Rippon (b. 1927, Sacramento, CA), the influential Sacramento State Professor who has long been integral in shaping the Northern California ceramics tradition.

“The Sacramento region has long played an important role in the development of ceramic arts and especially today as clay has emerged as one of the most exciting media in contemporary art, we are pleased to welcome Rachel to the Museum," said Lial A. Jones, the Museum's Mort and Marcy Friedman Director & CEO. " She will further the Crocker’s collecting and scholarship in this area and will support the elevation of ceramics as one of the Museum’s key focus areas."

"The ceramics collection at the Crocker precedes itself, as it is well known among scholars, curators, collectors, and enthusiasts throughout North America," said Gotlieb, a modern and contemporary specialist with a particular interest in 19th-century ceramics. "I think what differentiates the collection is that it is embedded in a prestigious California museum, and I look forward to increasing access to its diverse and expansive collection."

Previously, Gotlieb was the Adjunct Curator and the former Chief Curator at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art, Toronto, among the few museums globally to be focused on ceramics, where she advised on acquisitions and donations and lectured on 19th-century, modern and contemporary ceramics and design.

Notably, she directed the installation of a monumental glazed ceramic sculpture in front of the Gardiner by artist Jun Kaneko; curatedPiece by Piece(2015), the first museum presentation in Canada of acclaimed British ceramic artist Clare Twomey; True Nordic (2016–17), a landmark survey exploring more than seven decades of Nordic aesthetic influence on Canadian design spanning furniture, ceramics, textiles, metalwork, and glassware; and a major retrospective (2017–18) of the acclaimed Canadian artist Steven Heinemann who transformed the medium of ceramics in Canada.

She holds a B.A. in Art History from the University of Toronto; an M.A. in Design History from the Victoria & Albert Museum at the Royal College of Art, London, and a Ph.D. in Art History from the Queens University, Kingston, Ontario.

2022 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts Conference

The Crocker also announced today that it will play a major role at the 2022 National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Conference, bringing thousands of clay artists to Sacramento, the host city.

The conference theme, "Fertile Ground," refers to the many influential ceramists who have worked in our area and Sacramento's position as an agricultural powerhouse.

During the run of the conference (March 16–19), the Crocker will feature four clay exhibitions including Stephen De Staebler: Masks and Monumental Figures;

Hands and Earth: Contemporary Japanese CeramicsThe Candy Store: Funk, Nut and Other Art With a Kick, devoted to the Candy Store Gallery in Folsom, CA, which between 1962–1992 sold humorous, irreverent art by local artists, many of whom worked in clay and are nationally acclaimed today. The fourth exhibition, Belonging, is a show organized in partnership with NCECA and guest-curated by Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy, a New York and Los Angeles-based curator, writer, and arts administrator of contemporary art and craft that will focus on the themes of belonging and identity. The exhibition explores the coded ways in which we navigate inhospitable environments, push back against oppressive systems that deny belonging, and the role of community in fostering inclusion.

Ceramics Exhibitions Opening Soon

Hands and Earth: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics

SEPTEMBER 12, 2021 – APRIL 24, 2022

Stephen De Staebler: Masks and Monumental Figures

NOVEMBER 21, 2021 – APRIL 3, 2022

The Candy Store: Funk, Nut, and Other Art With A Kick

JANUARY 6, 2022 – MARCH 27, 2022


FEBRUARY 20 – MAY 22, 2022

[left] Elsa Rady, Bowl, 1979. Glazed porcelain, 3 x 9 1/4 (diam.) in. Crocker Art Museum, gift of Jane Rady Lynes, 2018.35.624. [center] Elsa Rady, Bowl, 1979. Glazed porcelain, 2 1/4 x 8 1/2 (diam.) in. Crocker Art Museum, gift of Jane Rady Lynes, 2018.35.27. [right] Elsa Rady, YK1BVPID, 1985. Glazed porcelain, 7 x 11 (diam.) in. Crocker Art Museum, gift of Jane Rady Lynes, 2018.35.28.

Ceramics Exhibition Currently on View

Edge of Elegance: Porcelains by Elsa Rady


An exhibition of the late American artist’s objects of geometric simplicity and beauty is currently on view at the Crocker through November 1, 2021. An intimate, focused survey of the graceful sculptural vessels made in her Venice, California studio between 1967 and 1995, this is the artist’s first solo show in more than a decade. The presentation has been organized on the occasion of an extraordinary gift of nearly 80 works by the Estate of Elsa Rady to the Crocker’s ceramics collection. The artist (1943–2011) created a body of work characterized by tactility, lightness, and energy, and the survey of more than 45 objects explores the artist’s transition from producing functional objects to the sleek, nonfunctional pieces for which she is known today.

About the Crocker

The Crocker brings people together and connects them in unexpected ways with art, ideas, each other, and the world around them. Founded as a public/private partnership in 1885, the Crocker features the world's foremost display of California art and is renowned for its holdings of master drawings and international ceramics, as well as European, Asian, African, and Oceanic art. The Crocker serves as the primary regional resource for the study and appreciation of fine art and offers a diverse spectrum of exhibitions, events, and programs to deepen visitor's understanding of art, including films, concerts, studio classes, lectures, and an array of activities for families and children. More information about exhibits and programs can be found