My first assignment: 1895 Years of Pottery at the B-Square Gallery on South 9th Street organized by Neil Patterson and Sandi Pierantozzi. The show is a collection of 74 pieces of utilitarian pottery from 60 different potters around the nation. Each potter is a leader in the field having over 25 years of experience.
Truthfully pottery isn’t quite my thing. I confess to never throwing a pot or even working with clay (beyond the playdough years, of course). While beautiful and often functional, pottery also seems predictable and a tad boring to me. However coming from a Fiber Arts background I do appreciate the rich history of this craft as well as the deep connection there is to the Earth.
Actually walking around the B-Square Gallery seemed more like a museum exhibit than an art show. I felt obligated like to talk quieter and walk lighter than my usual brash and more aggressive self. There is something very tranquil and almost humbling when you in a room full of beautiful pottery. It’s as if you are surrounded by a forest of old trees with years of stories and wisdom to share if you listen closely.
One of the first pieces that struck me was Will Ruggles and Douglas Rankin’s wood fired stoneware piece, Covered Jar. The golden-orange color and organic tick-marks reminded me of a carrot cozily growing in the Earth patiently waiting to be picked and enjoyed. To me it perfectly references the clay from the ground of which it is formed.
Susan Filley’s porcelain vase Boat was another piece which stuck out in the crowd. It is animated with its soft matte finish, long body and creature-like legs – almost begging to be softly caressed. I visited the potter’s website and found a beautiful statement which reinforced my feelings toward her piece, “I like a pot that asks to be touched or that tells me to treasure it, to step back and admire, or perhaps just to hold to use and to enjoy.”
My favorite piece in the collection was Jack Troy’s piece, Relativity Large Cup. Truth be told it is a actually a little cup – a small treasure you just want to hug in your hands. Angular in the most organic of ways, it is marked with fossil-like patterns on each side as if it has lived for thousands of years. I just want it to reside amongst my cacti and succulents in my studio so I could cradle it whenever I please.
So maybe pottery isn’t quite as boring as I thought – it is just possesses a quieter and refined presence. It is a strong and solid medium that will continue its progression through the years grounded in its rich history. The show at B-Square Gallery runs through May 1st. 614 South 9th Street, 215.625.0692. Be sure to check out the other National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts exhibitions throughout Philly.
–Cari Gadamus is a designer, artist and newbie to Philly