Women with a Voice,  March 17, 2013

By Farhana Qazi

Alice is an American woman who chose to follow her passion. She is an artist from Alabama. A ceramist, to be exact. With gifted hands and an eye for design, Alice’s beautifully ornate works of art have been displayed in New York city and other countries, including France, Japan and New Zealand.

 

I was fortunate to see her pots at an exhibit at Hollins University, her alma mater, where we met during a retreat. In the exhibit, Alice featured cylinder and bowl-shaped pots. I was intrigued by her choice of colors: a soothing bamboo-green, copper tones, golden hues, and an occasional striking shade of lapis.

 

Even when Alice chooses neutrals, her pots are vibrant–colors can range from a polar bear white to the shade of lambswool. Lance Esplund from The Wall Street Journal described her work:

 

“Her slender, stately ceramic vases…with wide lips, long necks and feet, and cured, swelling bellies–occupy that realm between functional and sculptural.”

 

Raised in central Alabama, once home to the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians, Alice collected arrowheads, her most prized possession. She told me,

 

“I found arrowheads and shards of pottery in the plowed fields along the Alabama River.  They were magic.”

 

Once Alice worked with clay on a potters wheel, she “never wanted to give it up.” The Greeks inspired her. ”It’s part of our tradition, working in clay, that we pay homage to our past.  Greece is just one of the influences that has been important to me,” she said.

 

“I am fascinated with how the Greeks put their pots together and developed such a sophisticated style.”

 

The English potter, Lucie Rie, was also a role model.  The Guardian describes Rie as an artist who “set up her studio in Vienna in 1925 and fled Nazi Austria for London in 1938. Her delicate modernism set her apart from the earthiness of English craft ceramics.”

 

Other role models included her teachers in art school,  Rita Marlier and  Ken Ferguson; the latter taught Alice to “just work.” Ken introduced Alice to the “Chinese wares of the Sung, the Mimbres Indians burial bowls, and the simple craft of the anonymous Japanese potter.”

 

When asked about her future plans, Alice wants to keep making pots. And why shouldn’t she? She has a passion for art–something she has in common with her husband, Salvatore Federico,  a geometric abstract painter. His work is colorful, edgy, and simple.