Architectural ornament, in the time of gargoyles on cathedral towers and carved flowers around capitals, was as important to buildings as the columns that held them up.

Historically, ceramic ornamentation has been easier to execute than stone. Terra-cotta friezes and small statues decorated temples and other shrines as far back as ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.

After a period of bone-bare buildings, ceramic architectural ornament has been revived by a new breed of ceramic sculptors and the current interest in decoration. Now George Washington University's Dimock Gallery has organized a show of the reborn art. The Dimock Gallery show, composed of 16 artists of national and international repute, will run through July 18.

Most of the works are composed of modular elements such as tiles and moulded bricks. Some of the pieces are large scale works made up of simple, smaller units that fit together and recur, as in the case of Jim Stephenson's "Sagging Tile Wall." Stephenson uses terra-cotta tiles, moulded to three barrels, stacked one on top of the other, to produce a floor-to-ceiling column with a shingled effect.

Other works on display are smaller ceramic structures like Pamela Skewes-Cox's "Cube Series." The Series is composed of six stoneware cubes, all of which appear to be in different stages of construction.

Californian Larry Lubow is showing his stoneware wall piece of abstract concentric circles. Local ceramic artist Turker Ozdogan exhibits his wheel-thrown "Gordion Knot." the work, its stoneware sections alternately glazed and unglazed, stands nine feet high.

Also there's Nino Caruso's vertical structures, on loan from the Greenwood Gallery; Walter Hyleck's raku wall piece, titled "Plain Weaver Pig," from the the collection of Lloyd Herman; Warren Muller's white earthenware "Crown of Paws" wall piece, on loan from the private art dealer Shelley Guggenheim; and Mel Rubin's terra-cotta wall reliefs (courtesy of the Fendrick Gallery), which resemble the exterior of a ghetto apartment, complete with washed-out billboards for Marlboro cigarettes.

The show was organized in conjunction with the recent Eleventh International Sculpture Conference. Partial funding came from the National Endowment for the Arts. Gallery hours: 10 a.m. 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. The Dimock Gallery is off the lower lounge of Lisner Auditorium, 21st and H Sts., NW.