20th Century American Ceramics Exhibit; Part 2: Vessels without lids.

Photos and text by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL 62035, USA.

The Venue

This exhibit took place in the Bonsack Gallery of John Burroughs High School in Ladue, Missouri from August 22 to October 10, 2017.  The pieces in the exhibit showcased the ceramic art pieces that were gifted to the school from the Matthew & Jane Newman family in the honor of Andrew R. Newman.

The Call for Entry

There was no call for entry, as this was an exhibit of art works gifted to the school.

The Ceramic Art Pieces

In Part 1 we looked at vessels with a lid.  Here, in Part 2, we will look at vessels without a lid. Vessels without a lid usually have a more unconventional construction to them.

`”Untitled Vessel” by Richard DeVore
`”Untitled Vessel” by Richard DeVore

This vessel was behind glass at the entrance tot he exhibit, so that’s why you see glare on the images.  The vessel is about two feet tall, and has a smooth but matte surface. The aesthetic appeal to me is in the rounded bottom, and the partially slit rim. Typically, DeVore doesn’t provide a narrative to his pieces, because he believes that “visual art must require the viewer to extract an unspoken message from line, plane, color, texture, mass, and volume” of the ceramic piece.

“Nerikami Vase” by Thomas Hoadley

This was a great looking vase about 15 inches tall and also 15 inches in diameter.  What was astonishing is how a nerikami vase is constructed.  The vase is assembled from those fan-shaped sections, and those sections, in turn, come from a slab of clay cut into slices.  He states: “I wish to create a quiet sense of wonder; to engage the viewer’s eye with subtle modulations, organic color (whether saturated or rarefied), and complex textures from natural earth materials, all within a rectilinear format inspired by sacred geometry. I hope to entice a prolonged gaze during which time the alchemy of color and form can create in the viewer subtle emotions that may be found to underlie happiness, beauty, peace, calm, wonder”.

Among his several artistic goals I see the exploration of the integration of surface pattern with three dimensional form, and the exploration of creation of feelings by a collection of abstract elements.


“Tea Bowl” by John Glick

This porcelain bowl had that attractive translucent glaze with a curious set of glazed patches.  The bowl is about 12 inches tall and maybe 10 inches wide, so it’s an imposing piece.  Glick was said to be attracted to explore how simplicity and complexity may coexist in a single piece. Here he succeeded magnificently.





“Vase Form” by Robert Turner
“Vase Form” by Robert Turner

This is a wonderful example of Turner’s sculptural vessels.  He altered wheel thrown vessels, and he sandblasted the matte glazes.  With that he achieved an ancient look of his vessels. His trip to Ghana and Nigeria influenced his art, and the ensuing production of large square-topped vessels.


“Minoan Pillow Pitcher” by Betty Woodman
“Minoan Pillow Pitcher” by Betty Woodman

This almost three feet wide piece was inspired by Minoan pitchers.  This piece was constructed by fusing two clay cylinders horizontally, and then pinching the ends to close the space.  The glazing was the most colorful among the pieces on the exhibit.





“Pillow vessel” by David Shaner

This was a unique combination of abstract form with a traditional function. The opening is also unusual, but very proportional, and the lid-like circle etched into the vessel makes you think if it’s removable.  Close to the bottom oft he piece there is the remarkable smooth amber/yellow mark of the wood-firing.  Shaner was instrumental in starting the Archie Bray Foundation; his contribution to American ceramics is more than just being a potter.



“Rues Turn” by William Daley
“Rues Turn” by William Daley

This large vessel (about two feet tall) is hand built, and left unglazed.  Not only the outside is carves, but the inside is precisely shaped as well (see photo on the right).

He states on his web site: ” I enjoy the rush of moving toward a more telling vessel: One in which the duality of material and spirit whisper the symmetry of wonder”.



















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