Ceramicist Iris Dimond is nothing if not practical. Most things she makes are usable “vessels,” as she calls them: bowls, teapots, the occasional lamp. But, she says firmly, their usefulness shouldn’t diminish their aesthetic appeal. “People think, ‘I’m just going to put food in it, so it’s not art,’” she says. “Yes, it’s beautiful. You can put it on the table, look at it for a while and then you can put stew in it, wash it and put it back on the table.” Dimond learned how to make pottery her senior year at Sacramento State. She took ceramics classes every semester as she completed her master’s degree. (She teaches early childhood education at Cosumnes River College.) “It is peaceful, centering,” Dimond says about working with clay, and sometimes full of surprises. “It’s whatever the clay decides to be,” she explains. A large, round piece first meant to be a tray—glazed in blues, greens and brown—becomes a backdrop for a mirror, embellished with sea glass, driftwood and shells. A ceramic face sports a touch of whimsy: a long, dangly earring. This past fall, Dimond and collage artist Marshall Dean Bailey moved the once-itinerant Kuumba Collective Art Gallery into permanent space in the Uptown Arts District just off Highway 160. Fifteen artists are represented; all are African American. “Hopefully, we’re filling a niche and educating people [that] artists don’t come in one hue or shade, and neither does our artwork.” Kuumba is at 1001 Del Paso Blvd. It is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m., and later on Second Saturdays.