Artist's Statement
About "Looking at Lucie Rie"

I’ve been a potter for over thirty years, and I’ve never tired of looking at pots. Trained as a historian, I have naturally grounded my work in historical ceramics. The presumed need for artists to make something entirely new often renders history superfluous. But the history of clay is a valuable resource for me. This history is my joy and my inspiration.

The current exhibition is a small part of two years spent learning from Lucie Rie.

Lucie Rie grew up in Vienna, but came to England in 1938, fleeing the Nazis. She was steeped in Bauhaus design; when most English potters, under the tutelage of Bernard Leach, were looking to Japan. Lucie’s aesthetic is quite different. It is linear, not volumetric. It is spare, not luscious. It is measured, not gestured.

The simplicity and quiet of her work fascinates me. Two years ago I taped an image of one of her pots on the wall in front of my wheel. I was determined to learn how she made such an articulated shape. She threw it in sections, joined and re-threw the whole. Throwing and looking, I found where she sectioned and what the sections looked like. It’s really been fun.

I also wanted to know how she made her glazes. I asked my teacher, Ken Ferguson, if he had ever seen any glaze notes of Lucie’s. He directed me to Potters in Parallel, which unfortunately was out of print. I finally located a copy through the Archivia bookstore. What a treasure trove of information. There were several pages of glaze analyses; I was thrilled. Unfortunately, the notes were not always accurate. Whoever had transcribed them had changed a decimal point, and I unloaded many volcanic failures before realizing that her pitted surfaces had .05% silicon carbide in them and not .5%.

This body of work is an homage to Lucie Rie. She has taught me to see line. I have loved having her in my studio for two years. She has given me a ground that is rich in creative possibilities.

Alice Hohenberg Federico

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