October 2009 Archives

Duckworth inStudio.jpgRuth Duckworth died at the age of 90 in Chicago last week. I remember going to the Renwick Museum in Washington DC to hear Ruth Duckworth speak at the beginning of her exhibit in 2007. The huge room on the second floor where artists give presentations was filled to capacity. I leaned into the room to see a tiny woman talk of her life as a stubborn committed artist. She was born in Germany in 1919 and later moved to England and finally to the USA to take a teaching job at the University of Chicago in 1964.

Viewing the exhibit I was struck by how in my memory I keep images of pieces that are widely reproduced and while touring the retrospective the breadth of the actual objects detailed the path of her artistic inquiry. The pieces that drew me in were the intimate works. It was as if they had an inner concentration of energy and intuition. The larger mural pieces of which I have seen many photos do not convey the same organic energy and delicacy.

I ran across a 1977 catalog from Exhibit A in Chicago on my shelf. It was published in honor of when she retired from teaching. I found this quote from 1944 
"It comes to this, that one must be true to oneself uncompromisingly. That sounds most arrogant but it is nothing but the deepest humility."

duckworth blade.jpgduckworth earthwatersky.jpg

wheels of inspiration

I have been reading about Hans Coper recently. I am always taken by his ability to take an idea and explore the variety of a single theme. He was concerned with an modern feeling of form. The  quality of surface was developed not in terms of decoration but integrated through layers of slip sanding and rubbing he created depth.

hans coper composite verticle.jpg"The wheel imposes its economy, dictates limits, provides momentum and continuity. Concentrating on continuous variations of simple themes I become part of the process. I am learning to operate a sensitive instrument which may be resonant to my experience of existence now in this fantastic century." Hans Coper

hans coper horizontal.jpgWhen I am taken with an artist I try to look at not only what they did but where they derived their inspiration. Coper had a great love for cycladic forms and admiration for the sculptors Brancusi and Giacometti.

giacometti-chariot-figure-2009.jpgAs I am slowed down by my fracture and get around on crutches and a wheel chair I am struck by the photos of Coper in his wheelchair at the end of his life.

hans-coper-wheelchair-2009.jpgImages of sculptures and pots that include wheels ignite my imagination and pen.