got to be good looking cause he’s so hard to see
Peter Voulkos demonstrated his wheel-thrown, stacked ceramic sculptures at Penn State at the 1976 SuperMud conference. The bisqued vestige of his demonstration pot now lives in the Pennsylvania State University Ceramics department’s collection; a piece I have investigated visually, physically, and metaphorically.
In response to Voulkos’ overt masculinity and brute strength, I threw a compounded curved form that matched his sculpture’s height. I contrasted Voulkos’ rough attachments by finessing my seam-lines. I opted to use finer porcelain than his iron-specked stoneware. Where Voulkos gouged his forms, I swaddled mine.
In my thesis show at Penn State, I installed my work next to Voulkos’ sculpture but placed his behind the wall, only allowing viewers a small peephole to see it inside with a photo from the 1976 demonstration.
A brochure for the exhibition introduced the piece to viewers by saying:
“Peter Voulkos’ abstract ceramic forms are tall, thick, violent, strong, and masculine. To protect viewers (especially our female guests) from these powerful emotions, an unglazed Voulkos piece has been installed behind a protective wall. The fabric-wrapped reinterpretations of Voulkos’ work are, however, suitable for all audiences.”
Smaller cheesecloth wrapped pots accompanied the installation to show a range of experimentation and to suggest a backlog of female figures queued up to respond to the dominant male hero of our field.