One artwork by Daniel Rhodes in the Greenwich House Pottery Collection is from 1960 and has the title “Fish face. Jack Dempsey, whale pot. It’s a whale of a pot! Piranha pot!”. This is an unusual title for Rhodes’ practice, as is the squished basketball shape of the piece with the most distinct feature being the mouthlike slit on one side. There are two condition reports that accompany the vessel’s photographs. One recalls the state of the piece as being “excellent” while the other is noted as “good.” I let the sentiment of the words, as well as new combinations, guide the forms of my next round of sculptures. Out came a series of fin-covered, looping sculptures. I used the porcelain paper clay as a nod to the development and use of additives Daniel Rhodes is known for using in his work and also speaks about in Clay and Glazes for the Potter. The porcelain paper clay recipe and technique was shared with me by Lisa Chicoyne, artist and instructor at Greenwich House Pottery, while we had lunch a few blocks from the studio last summer.
Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, CA
January 22-March 15, 2020
Duplicating Daniel traces artist Kari Marboe’s attempts to recreate an original sculpture, recorded as missing from Mills College Art Museum’s permanent collection, by the influential but under-recognized ceramicist Daniel Rhodes. The only remaining evidence of this sculpture is its accession date (1975, gift of the artist) and a murky black and white photocopy.
Daniel Rhodes taught ceramics at Alfred University, New York, for 25 years and published six books on technical ceramics, including the widely relied upon Clay and Glazes for the Potter. Duplicating Daniel features Marboe’s attempts to recreate the original Rhodes sculpture based on data collected from research in the museum’s archives, as well as the archives at Alfred University and Greenwich House Pottery, NY, and descriptive information mined from interviews with artists and curators who knew Rhodes and his work.
The exhibition includes Marboe’s numerous attempts to create physical ‘replicas’ of Rhodes’ sculpture and other renditions developed in the course of her research. Additional areas of investigation include creating ceramic “kickstand” sculptures that address the question, if the piece now exists only as a photograph, how can we help it stand up and be a sculpture again? Marboe’s work also explores the language of her process, including watercolor paintings using the sculpture’s potential color (described by ceramicist Nancy Selvin as an “uncool, but cool, brown”) to depict synonyms of the word “duplicate.” At the end of the exhibition, one of Marboe’s sculptures will enter the museum’s permanent collection as a replacement for the missing Rhodes piece.
In addition, the exhibition also features related works from the museum’s renowned Antonio Prieto Collection of Contemporary Ceramics. During Antonio Prieto’s tenure (1950–67) as a Mills faculty member, the San Francisco Bay Area played an important role in the evolution of ceramics. The exhibition plays with this specific history of ceramics at Mills, the interconnectivity of the ceramics community, and the Bay Area’s cultural legacy.
The first iteration of this work was developed in collaboration with A-B Projects, Los Angeles, 2018. Nicole Seisler, curator/director, started the space as a site for expanded ceramics, and was instrumental in encouraging this project and providing the title for the exhibition.
Many thanks to all the collaborators and lenders to the exhibition: Andrea and John Gill, Arthur Gonzalez, John Hosford, Susan Kowalczyk, Philip Linhares, Nathan Lynch, Kaitlin McClure, Del Miller, Rosa Novak + Mutual Stores, Nancy Selvin, Linda Sormin, Michael Swaine, Luke Turner, Adam Welch, the Oakland Museum of California, and the Ceramics Community at California College of the Arts. Kari Marboe: Duplicating Daniel is supported through the generosity of the Agnes Cowles Bourne Fund for Special Exhibitions.