Ceramicist and professor Sharif Bey (born 1974, Pittsburgh, PA) produces both functional and sculptural pieces of pottery, using a variety of forms and textures. His body of work reflects his interest in the visual heritage of Africa and Oceania, as well as contemporary African American culture. He explores the cultural significance of ornamentation with colorful large-scale beads that he assembles into adornment pieces. Also an active scholar, Bey regularly publishes in academic journals on art education.
As a high school student in Pittsburgh, Bey participated in the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild apprenticeship program, a formative experience that inspired his career. He went on to earn a BFA in ceramics from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, an MFA in studio art from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a PhD in art education from the Pennsylvania State University, during which he received a Fulbright scholarship. He has taught at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina and Virginia Commonwealth University, and is currently a dual associate professor at Syracuse University in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and School of Education. Bey’s work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions, including Sharif Bey: Lived History and Cultural Memory (2017) at Baltimore Clayworks. He has held residencies at the McColl Center for Visual Arts in North Carolina, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin, and most recently the Pittsburgh Glass Center, which culminated in the exhibition Sharif Bey: Dialogues in Clay and Glass (2018). His work can be found in the collections of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh and Hickory Museum of Art in North Carolina, as well as the United States Embassies in the Sudan and Uganda.