Tales in Clay by Chris Waddington
From the start, Steve Rucker pushed the limits of ceramics.
His first show featured unglazed clay and willow sticks; later
he torched large-scale wood and clay sculptures - "site specific
burns" - on levees around New Orleans. So it's no surprise
that his current installation at Arthur Roger Gallery covers
the floor with hundreds of brightly painted dice, snakes,
forks and "slices of pie" - a ceramicist's dream vision of
gambling in New Orleans.
never interested in tile preciousness of traditional ceramic
arts. My heroes were painters and earth artists who worked
on a big scale. When that came together with a Southerner's
interest in narrative, my installations began to be filled
with recognizable imagery," Rucker said.
make these pieces without my ceramic training. Clay is the
quickest way for me to make things - and I never slow down
as I try to capture my ideas. I'm looking for overall impact
- not pure craftsmanship."
installations and attitude couldn't be further from the work
of Japanese potter lkuta Susumu. The latter mixes his own
clay, ages ít for a year and generally sticks to the labor
intensive processes he learned during a five year apprenticeship
in his homeland.
his functional vessels stands alone: hand-painted, unique
objects that radiate their maker's personality as surely as
Rucker's theatrics. Between them, these two artists stake
out the distant poles of today's ceramics, but lkuta seemed
to speak for them both - and all their colleagues in New Orleans
galleries: "Clay is alive," he said. "Clay is magic."