I live, create and survive as a retired Emeritus Professor from Loyola
University New Orleans. I still consider Southeast Tennessee
my home. My better work is directly inspired by the Southern landscape,
the work of visionary "outsiders," agriculture, social, and environmental
ironies, and any music with a good story and beat. Although schooled
primarily in ceramics, most of my "heroes" were and remain painters, sculptors, poets and songwriters.
From my first
few days in the Louisiana 1970's, I was drawn to and overwhelmed
by the Mississippi River. It was powerful, filthy, rich with history,
and full of industrial choreography. Not quite what I had envisioned
via Huckleberry Finn. Yet it demanded a kind of respect and I still
walk along, gather and work near it today.
the possibilities that the artist of the late sixties and seventies
proposed, my own ideas began to outgrow kilns and require larger
structures, galleries, and outdoor spaces in order to investigate,
discover or dramatize the transformation process encompassed in
ceramics and art-making. My sculptures, paintings, and installations
have become less formal and more narrative. Audio tapes have become
an integral part. They include self-penned and produced songs. What
results is an ongoing look at ceramics in conjunction with various
materials, usually addressing the ephemeral, that points a finger
at the givings and misgivings in this land of plenty.
The city of New
Orleans continues to stimulate and haunt me. The dice are rolling
again on Old Man River. Having to stay on guard and alert has simultaneously
heightened my sensitivity to social, political, and basic urban
survival skills and "ills." At times, critical laughter is the best
medicine. A recent break from the city allowed me to rediscover
the Southern landscape and the things and people found in it. In
time, I hope to offer more visual comments and add a few "things"
to the legacy.
If you make it as far as I have, you probably have a handful of folks who ‘coached’ when it was needed and let you ‘call your own plays’ otherwise. My list includes: Grace Guilford, Jerry Johnson, Billie Nipper, Jere Chumley, David Ledoux, Ken Catbagan and Joe Bova.
In 2009 my back, legs, and lungs were completely worn out. There could be no more unloading and lifting 50 lb. clay bags and bending to teach beginning pottery. I was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease and COPD. It became necessary to retire from teaching due to long term disability. I continue to work (when the meds allow me) several hours each morning. In 2011, over 160 small ceramic units became an installation exhibited at the Arthur Roger Gallery titled "Focus Group." I'm presently making a few pots and working on another small object installation titled "Spectator Sport." I'm also putting the finishing touches on my 5th CD "Daddy Tried," to be released later this year.
This site is dedicated to the memory of: W. B. and Helen Rucker, Charlie Dixon, George C. Carroll, Creighton L. Smith, Harry Ledford, Buddy Bowman, and David G. Ledoux.
Thanks for passin' through...!
W. Steve Rucker - October 2000