March 21 – May 31, 2021


The North Dakota Museum of Art will open Conservation Through Clay by Fargo-based artist Brad Bachmeier on Sunday, March 21. There will be no opening reception, but the artist will record a talk which the Museum will upload to YouTube and post on social media. The Museum will open weekdays 9 – 5 pm, and Sundays 12 – 5 pm, starting March 15, 2021. If you would like to organize a group tour, please call the Museum at 701-777-4195.


In 1916, the US Congress established the National Park Service, and in 1919 the National Park Foundation. Today the NPS has 423 physical holdings, of which 63 were designated national parks. With 28 years of ceramic research and production experience, Bachmeier set out to explore humankind’s ancient and universal partnership with clay. To do this, he applied, and was accepted, for five artist-in-residence programs in five different national parks. Brad described the residencies “as rare, intense and life-changing experiences where an artist can hyper-focus their time and energy without distraction while creating new authentic work”. In the struggle to reflect the unique character of each park with an authentic voice, four distinct themes emerged throughout the work. As a National Park Artist in Residence, Brad states that “one should feel the tremendous honor and historic responsibility of trying to meet the National Park Service’s AIR mission statement in joining the venerable canon and tradition of National Park Art.”

Over the course of 6 years, Bachmeier created more than 200 pots (the exhibition will feature nearly fifty of these pots) based on four themes in order to capture the uniqueness of each park.

Themes include:

Art and the Parks, An Interwoven History: The exhibition will celebrate and recognize the interwoven and ongoing history of artists and the parks and their integral role in convincing Congress to establish the NPS in 1916.

Honoring Indigenous Art Forms and Contributions in a Global Context: Ancient indigenous human interactions with the earth in these historic locations such as cliff-dwellings and petroglyphs also led to in-depth investigations in how both ceramic and basketry disciplines developed and influenced one another.

Geology, Topography, and Rock Formation: A collection of works that illustrates clay as a primal element and its direct scientific, and aesthetic connections to geology, topography and rock formations.

Conservation and Preservation: Beginning with the first residency program at the Lewis & Clark State Park on Lake Sakakawea in ND, conservation concerns began to impose themselves loudly and unexpectantly in each of the following experiences which included: Mesa Verde National Park, UNESCO World Heritage Site, The National Petrified Forest, The Grand Canyon/Parashant National Monument and Red Rock National Conservation Area. It became important to highlight the responsibility that modern society, politicians and individuals have to conserve and protect our nation’s most important and vulnerable historical, cultural and natural resources.


Ceramics Monthly Article

Brad Bachmeier, Badlands, 2014.
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.
Ceramic, 17 x 10 inches.
Wheel-thrown, expanded, eroded and multi-fired.

Brad Bachmeier, artist-in-residence, at the Nixon Admin Site. 

Brad Bachmeier, Opo Sanno (Souther Pauite – Basket-rim pots), 2016.
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Ceramic with reed and cane, 5 x 10 x 10 inches.
Wheel-thrown, burnished and pit-fired with woven rims.