Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sacred grounds...

Yes, that's what it felt like...sacred ground. On a recent trip to Alfred, to be specific, the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, I was awed by the collection of amazing and important pieces. I took my work study students plus a couple more who were interested on the two hour trip out of our Chautauquan bubble. We had a contact in the acquisitions department who met us and gave us all the big tour. Her name is Susan and she generously gave her time to show us the private collection, gallery, acquisitions room, and a couple storage rooms for the larger works.

In the gallery was a show by visiting assistant professor and Turner Teaching Fellow, Chris Miller. We all met Chris in the bubble of the Cha. while he was teaching at the children's school. He is a young and interesting guy with a fresh approach to ceramics...I hope to see him as visiting faculty in the ceramics studio next summer.

Then Susan led us into her office area which is filled with new acquisitions and special pieces... shelves filled with amazing things. Names that you know from ceramic history lined the shelves...

Above starting from left to right... an early Voulkos teapot seated next to a Ken Ferguson...the next image, on the top shelf, the three in the middle, Hamada, Leach, Robert Turner...WOW...and all those great tea bowls! Unfortunately we couldn't touch was like going to ceramist hell...all this in front of you and you can not touch a thing! This work was made to be molested by hands...just not anymore I guess. Then in the last image, a Frank Martin teapot sits in good company! Frank and Polly Martin came and taught at the Chautauqua Ceramics studio for the first 3 weeks and that is also how we got the hook-up for this cool tour. Frank was asked to donate a piece to their collection and 3 of the students that came with us are he and Polly's students from Tenn. How cool was that to see his piece sitting there in this ceramic Valhalla!

Also in the acquisitions room was an entire set of an Eva Zeisel production line called "Fantasy". This came as a donation to Alfred from a private owner.

In the basement they store all the large scale works that belong to the well as the special shelves that hold works by Charles Binns, the founder of Alfred College of Ceramics and the father of modern studio pottery. There are also little niches for all the old Alfred potter/professors that came after Binns and followed in his footsteps and philosophies. In the last image above you can see another large Voulkos piece.

We were then left to wander the studios and very grand kiln room...the kiln room has 42 good size to big mostly front loading kilns...the entire room is a big circle and all the kilns are piped out to one big stack...very impressive. The last image is Yuan and Sara checking out all the meticulous glaze tests by Val Cushing posted in the lower halls.

Last but not least we made our way over to the performing arts center to view Wayne Higby's huge wall installation, "Earth Cloud" was massive but beautiful in its subtle porcelain tones. All and all the Alfred trip was a real highlight for me and hopefully to the students that came along. It was curious to see all my ceramic influences gathered together in one place tucked away safely in the middle of nowhere NY...I am happy to share these pieces and this experience with you gentle reader...tune in soon for more summer fun postings.

1 comment:

Ben Stark said...

Wow! What a cool trip! I am awed at 42 kilns all in one place--going to one stack! Love the blog entries--keep 'em coming.