A young artist stand in a ceramics studio holding a work in progress. Other students are working at a long table behind her.
Youth participating in ceramics programming. Image courtesy of the Smart Museum of Art.

A Conversation on Engagement with Kahari Blackburn

During my time as the Art Design Chicago Intern, I attended the opening of the Smart Museum’s exhibition Ruth Duckworth: Life as a Unity. As I walked through the exhibition, I was blown away by Duckworth’s artistry. I was also struck by a map on the wall of the final room of the show. The map depicts the ceramics community on Chicago’s South Side and images of young people working on ceramics are arranged around the map. I was intrigued by the work that went into this and wanted to know more.  

I contacted the Smart Museum’s Art Design Chicago Engagement Fellow Kahari Blackburn and spoke to him about his experience creating and executing this initiative that engaged with young people to map the Chicago ceramics community. During the summer of 2023, Kahari toured ceramics studios with local youth as they worked to complete this capstone project that connects directly to Ruth Duckworth: Life as a Unity. 

On view September 21, 2023 to February 4, 2024, Duckworth’s first retrospective since 2005 foregrounds her sculptural production through nearly 60 objects (including earthy vessels, large-scale murals, and nearly translucent porcelain sculptures). This exhibition is presented as part of Art Design Chicago and is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Read more about the exhibition on the Smart Museum’s website.


Kaitlin Rikala

Kaitlin Rikala (they/them) is an art historian and creative writer. Kaitlin completed the 2023 UChicago MAPH Summer Internship with the Terra Foundation where they worked extensively on Terra’s Art Design Chicago initiative. They hold a master’s degree in art history, with an emphasis in curatorial and gender studies, from the University of Chicago.

Related Posts



Recent Posts

Related Posts