Ann Cummings arrived in Canada in 1974. She first lived in Edmonton and then moved to Toronto the following year. She says that she “wanted to get as far away from Detroit as she possibly could”. For those that do not know the history of race riots in the United States, Detroit was at the heart of many of them. They began in 1967 when Detroit erupted and caused further riots across Michigan. Imagine the US government trying to end the riots y sending in the Army National Guard. 43 dead, 1189 injured, 7200 arrests with 2000 buildings destroyed. The scale of the riot that year in Detroit was only eclipsed by the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. Like so many of those who came to Canada in resistance to the Vietnam War and the social ills of America in the 1960s and 70s, Cummings has been working with clay for more than fifty years. Her work has continued to evolve.
Cummings attended Wayne State University where she graduated with a BFA degree in ceramics and drawing. She has also attended the Archie Bray Foundation (1973), Sheridan College (1976) and was a resident artist at the Banff Center for the Arts in 1992. Cummings early work centred on wheel thrown vessel forms. Later, she created work that was both personally expressive and decorative. She also started using raku firing methods, a technique that she has taught to hundreds of students. She now works in cast and moulded porcelain sculpture. The subject of her new work is memory.
Her first studio in Toronto was with a few other Sheridan graduates in a large warehouse. Later she was at Harbourfront and later at The Spiral Potter in the Beaches area of Toronto. Eventually, like so many of us, she set up her studio in part of her home in Toronto – the basement. I wonder how many of us have done this? Today, Cummings lives outside of Toronto in Port Perry where she has a 900 sq foot studio, a LPG soda kiln and a raku kiln for workshops. She also does extensive firings in her electric kiln. Nothing has slowed her down from the day she crossed into Canada. She is still working, is still part of the studio tours in her region, she teaches workshops after years of successful teaching at George Brown College, Sheridan College, and Ontario College of Art to name only a few.
Cummings has been represented by the Prime Gallery, the premier Canadian gallery for ceramics in Toronto and has had many solo exhibitions in Alberta and Ontario. Most recently, her work was shown at the David Kaye Gallery in Toronto (2016) and at the Art Gallery of Burlington (2017). Cummings was in included in numerous group exhibitions. They include the Propeller Centre for the Arts in Toronto Invitational (2013-15), the Jingdezhen International Invitational Ceramic Fair in China (2009), the Work from Heart, Mind, and Hand Exhibition at the John B. Aird Gallery in Toronto (2009) to name only a few. Images and discussions of her work are included in the late Robin Hopper’s The Ceramic Spectrum, Paul Scott’s Painted Clay, Graphic Arts and the Ceramic Surface, Peter Dormer’s The New Ceramics: Trends and Traditions, as well as John Gibson’s The Decorated Vessel: Contemporary Approaches to name only a few. In addition, her work has appeared in numerous ceramics magazines including Ceramics Monthly, Fusion, and Contact Magazine.