African Ceramics: What Are We Looking At?
Water Mill, New York
Born in South Dakota, Douglas Dawson developed a fascination for ceramics at an early age. After serving as an apprentice to master potter Niwa Ryochi in Yamagata, Japan, he spent time studying pre-Columbian ceramics in Highland Maya potting villages. Considered an expert in the field of ethnographic ceramics, he has owned and operated the Douglas Dawson Gallery in Chicago, specializing in ancient and historic art from Africa, Asia and the Americas, since 1983.
This talk, using examples from the Watermill Collection of African ceramics, will consider the formal and conceptual issues so effectively explored by African potters, and why those issues mean something to us.
African ceramics have only recently emerged from total obscurity to enter the broader corpus of what constitutes African art. African potters do not make pots differently than anyone else, but they have explored and exploited the metaphorical potential of the vessel like few others. No aesthetic possibility remained unexplored, no functional problem creatively unresolved, and nowhere did ceramics play such a fundamental role in the spiritual life of the cultures that produced them.
What are we seeing when we look at an African pot?
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