It is really easy to write about the work of a very creative group of young women. In my last blog I talked about their final assignment for their beginning wheel throwing class. In that blog there was mention of each of them and their work. Tonight I want to focus on a tea set by Haley Bean.
Haley Bean had never worked with clay prior to registering for this beginning class in her final year at the School of Art. She said, sadly, that she wished she had discovered the medium earlier. I wondered what she would have accomplished if this was her last Honour’s critique. One can only imagine. Notice the clean lines and use of angles. Haley has a great sense of design, proportion, and balance. She also learned from the glaze testing she did and that of the others in the class and created a very quiet palette for her set.
Haley represents the future of ceramics, at least to me and several of my colleagues. In fact, my friend Markus Boehm, said that the future of wood firing is actually women at his presentation for the Third European Wood firing conference in La Borne. ‘Back in the day’ all of us had a copy of Bernard Leach’s The Potter’s Book. At a time when there was limited information on kilns, glazes, and wheels, it became the constant companion for the potters of Europe, the United States, and Canada. Leach toured North America first in 1952 promoting his book and his beliefs. His influence was widespread. The view of the rural idyll complete with pottery studio and high fire reduction kiln was common place. Men ran the ceramics departments, were featured in the books and magazines as well as in exhibitions and they completely monopolized the prizes and grants categories. But things are changing.
At the School of Art, there are two full time faculty teaching ceramics – me and my colleague, Grace Nickel. Of the two sessionals this academic year, one is a very talented woman, Grace Han, one of the School’s recent MFA graduates. My beginning wheel throwing class was all women. And, yes, the future of ceramics is women – urban, forward thinking, highly creative and independent women like Haley Bean.