Liz Quackenbush is a Professor of Art at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, where she has worked for the past 20 years. Her work has been included in the Minnesota Pottery Tour for 16 years. She has taught at numerous craft schools, lectured at universities and art centers nationally and internationally, and participated in residencies in the U.S. and abroad.
See Artist and Juror Statements below.
My years are cyclic. Autumn, winter and spring are spent teaching at Penn State University and working in my studio. I summer at the Jersey shore and Vermont, mostly living outside. Friends, food, outdoor physical activity, and art are important.
I have a studio in Vermont. I like visiting a place over and over. It allows me to learn an environment, intimately. The natural environments I have grown to know are the ones that feed my ceramic work.
A lineage of women makers precedes me. My great grandmothers, grandmothers, and mother all made objects that decorate my home. Waste paper baskets, key rings, wooden pocketbooks, knitted and crocheted garments and blankets, lace linens, cut lamp-shades, sewn clothing, holiday ornaments, hand-cut wooden jigsaw puzzles, gardens, and good food were just a few. Beautifying the home was a result of keeping the domestic hands and mind active. It was valued as a generous gift to loved ones. I learned to appreciate the importance of the intimate decorative arts at home.
I make all sorts of things but pottery is my main stay. A love of food and people gives pottery meaning. My love of the earth and all of its bounty becomes decoration on the surfaces of my pots. I hope my work reminds people to take a closer look around.
I have traveled to Morocco twice. Developing countries inspire me with awe and deep respect. I have always been a practical person. Maybe it is my Dutch heritage. In Morocco people have very little, so what they need they make. Everywhere you look, people are making things with their hands. Necessity has allowed them to learn how to make. The Muslims consider decoration and beauty, a reflection of Allah. Allah is beauty. Beauty is rendered as decoration. The Moroccans elaborately decorate their objects and surroundings. Time is slow in this part of the world. Efficiency barely exists. The people take time to make objects very special. There is so little excess yet hand hewed decoration is abundant. The decorative translation of devotion is abstract. Somehow I relate to this conversion.
When the creative mind and skilled hands navigate a complex idea, remarkable objects can result. Handmade objects have the potential to reflect the mind of the maker, while speaking to a larger community in a palpable tongue. An insatiable interest in exactly this is what has led me to making art, teaching art, and collecting art. This is why I accepted the opportunity to jury the Visions In Clay 2016 Exhibition at San Joaquin Delta College. I am dedicated to learning from the ceramic objects people make. Reviewing the entries broadened my insight into what is in the minds and hands of makers today.
As the juror of this exhibition, a broad series of questions shaped my consideration of the work submitted. Does the work speak to me after I stop looking at it? Do I understand the artist’s intent from the work? How far-reaching are the ideas defining the work? How well is the piece crafted? How ambitious is the piece? Many pieces engaged well-developed ideas and processes, so the challenge of selection was arduous. Reviewing the work from slides created additional challenges.
The most formidable part of this process was distributing the awards. (Continued juror statement to be published August 25th.)
I want to thank Gallery Director Jan Marlese, San Joaquin Delta College, and all of the ceramic artists who entered this exhibition, for giving me the opportunity to see and consider their artwork.