Humans have been creating utilitarian ceramics for thousands of years. The new exhibit “…After All These Years” displays the work of 40 U.S. potters who bring to light the history and commitment of making ceramic work within utility.
“...After All These Years” is on display in the University Gallery, located on the second floor of the Student Center, until April 12. It consists of a variety of pottery types and creations that include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.
In creating pottery, it begins with a clay body that is formed into an object and then fired in either high or low temperatures and later decorated in different ways. Glaze is the most common method of decoration.
In the gallery there are different strategies used in the making of pottery. There are bisque-fired, wood-fired, gas and electricity-fired pottery and different techniques of glazing that include ash and salt glazing.
The forms displayed are in the shapes of cups, plates and bowls that were designed for food storage and serving.
In early ceramics, humans would find red clay on the ground and use a pot over an open fire that is considered low temperature which changed over time in various parts of the world.
According to the exhibit catalogue, in the past in addition to smaller forms, large ceramic vessels were made to store grains, olive oil and wine.
The exhibit also includes maiolica, which is a low temperature glaze. It is an art form invented from Persia in the ninth century that includes a painting technique.
The curator of the exhibit is professor of ceramics at EMU, Diana Pancioli. Her purpose for the exhibit was to maintain the interest of utilitarian ware.
“I think there is a lot of history here. You can see maiolica and you also can see how skilled people are,” she said.
Pancioli has selected the potters from a national conference that were skilled in the craft.
“It is meant to be used, but a lot of clay work now is not,” she said. “It’s mostly sculptural and so it was a very selective group of people that I was looking for. I wanted to select people who were famed at their work already and some people who are fairly new. We have people here that I would guess to be around be 30 to 80 years old.”
Viewers can also buy the pottery on display by talking to a gallery guard who reaches out to the person in charge of the piece.
Helen Vachon, a gallery guard and intern for the exhibit, helped install, paint and build the exhibit.
“I want to see this beautiful kind of work be visible. I don’t want it to be lost,” she said.
There will be an opening reception on Wednesday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the University Gallery.