Organized as part of the Mint’s celebration of its 75th anniversary, this exhibition focuses on the ceramic creations of Herb Cohen, a master potter and seminal figure in the museum’s own history. Sophisticated Surfaces: The Pottery of Herb Cohen brings together approximately 60 works, including selections from the Mint’s permanent collection and loans from numerous private collections. Many of Cohen’s works feature intricate, abstract patterns carved into the clay surface, along with innovative experimentations in glazing, which harmoniously blend purity of form with sophisticated surface decoration. Following the evolution of his seven-decade-long career as an award-winning potter, this exhibition demonstrates in a variety of forms that range from the functional to the sculptural the inimitable skill and style for which Cohen has become known.
Born in Manhattan, Cohen first learned to throw on the potter’s wheel at the remarkably young age of 6, a craft he has continued to practice throughout his life. After earning his MFA from the prestigious New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Cohen worked as a designer for Hyalyn Porcelain Company in Hickory, N.C. He eventually settled in Charlotte in the late 1950s, where he joined the staff of The Mint Museum and served as its acting director from 1968 to 1969. In the 1970s he moved to Blowing Rock, N.C. to establish his own studio, but returned to Charlotte in 2010, where he remains active in the local arts community.