Gallery Talk October 1

A Connection in Clay artist Hank Murrow will host a gallery talk and slide presentation in the Chaney Gallery on Thursday, October 1 from 5:30–7 pm. 

About Hank Murrow


 

My three younger brothers and I endured a Jesuit education which was classical, vigorous, and abstract; so I was a sitting duck for the simultaneous encounter with Bob James and clay at the U. of Oregon in 1958. I was ripe for the idea of developing something from raw materials to an object transformed by the fire. At my first review, Bob turned over each piece to carefully regard the bottom before he looked at the rest of it; and I marveled, 'Hey, there's more to this than I thought!' ... which has continued to be true for 58 years.

David Stannard joined the faculty as I was beginning graduate work, and his gorgeous pots and profound understanding of materials perfectly balanced Bob's commitment to subject matter enfolded in rich metaphor. Together, they created an atmosphere of inquiry in the studio which encouraged us to share and learn from each other while remaining alert to our own calling. I was also very lucky to participate in six-week-long workshops with both Shoji Hamada and Michael Cardew; and to work alongside Jane Heald in our wonderful PotShop in Venice, California.

After earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1967, I went to Mexico to work for an art center in La Paz, Baja California. I married Bev Wickstrom in 1969 and took up a teaching post at Ohio University with George Kokis. During 1970-73 I was teaching at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, Colorado with Brad Reed. Bev and I returned to Eugene in 1974, where she began working for the University; while I divided my time between developing kiln designs and work in my studio there.

Back in 1969 some students from my pottery class and I were visiting the art history prof at his home and studio, when I noticed a box on a side table. I asked what was in it and he said, 'You can open it......if you do it over the carpet'. Inside the beautiful box was a brocaded cloth bag, & inside the bag was a teabowl with a lumpy white & orange glaze. At first I thought it might be rough, but once I got it into my hands I was seduced by its comforting texture and light weight. The pits inside the bowl held tiny pockets of bright green from its use as a teabowl. I asked what it was and he said, 'Shino........four hundred years old.' Well, I put it back in the bag and the box, but never out of my mind, chasing it ever since! 

About the Exhibit

A Connection in Clay - In Pursuit of Craft is an invitational show of American potters displaying how skills are transferred through lessons taught from master to student.  This partnership in pursuit of craft has been ongoing from the time where firing of ceramics was the high technology, traveling through the industrial revolution and into today’s art and craft movements.  

We invited emerging artists and their mentor. Also current masters (who named their mentors and influences) together with artists they are influencing in the next generation of studio potters.  The show displays the story of this ongoing dialog between potters and their relationship in craft.

The current studio pottery in America movement owes a great deal to Bernard Leach (1887-1979), Shoji Hamada (1894-1978) and Soestsu Yanagi (1889-1961).  As Michael Webb in his book, Introduction to Bernard Leach, Hamada & Their Circle stated, “The meeting of Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada in 1919 … started ripples which are still widening today and which may be considered one of the crucial events in twentieth century ceramic history.”  Leach, an Englishman, and Hamada, a like-minded Japanese potter friend, discovered pottery in Japan early in the twentieth century and devoted their lives to utilitarian pottery as an art form.  

Our show illustrates the diverse product from this connection in clay of Hamada and Leach and the interconnections of the potters in this exhibit. For example, Jeff Oestreich was encouraged by Warren MacKenzie to apprentice with Leach at St. Ives, which Jeff did starting 1968 and Jeff is one of the current pillars of the American mingei philosophy of utilitarian beauty today.  Another is Hank Murrow who in the sixties studied with Shoji Hamada for a shorter period of time; the Eastern influence is present in his work. 

Not everyone could have personally studied or apprenticed with Hamada or Leach, but the strength of the tradition, and the passing of knowledge and skills continues. We can see it in the connections between Chris Gustin and Seth Rainville, between Matthew Hyleck and Camilla Ascher and Missy Steele at Baltimore Clayworks (one of the important national centers for ceramics in the US), between Dale Huffman and Justin Rothshank and Missy Steele, between Matt Kelleher and Kenyon Hansen, and between Gail Kendall and Joseph Pintz. Many other connections take place; between Chris Gustin, one of the original founders of the Watershed Center in Maine, and Elizabeth Kendall the current president of the board of Watershed Center.  Even this exhibit can form connections in clay between you and the potters.