Narratives of African American Art and Identity

Yvonne Edwards Tucker

The Potter's House, 1995

Mixed media on paper

11" x 14"

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The Potter's House

Yvonne Edwards Tucker's interest in the complexity of the artistic process is reflected in her mixed-media work The Potter's House. According to art historian Michael Harris, before turning to ceramics Tucker originally had thought of herself as a painter. As this work indicates, she never abandoned this first love and would often incorporate elements of painting into her sculptures.

The Potter's House is an autobiographical image of Yvonne Edwards Tucker and her late husband, ceramicist Curtis Tucker, working together on one of their many collaborative projects. The raku ceramic decorated with drawings (central to the Tuckers' compositions) represents one of the couple's signature works. To create such a vessel, Curtis Tucker would first throw the pot; the work would then be fired, using a technique they developed together derived from African, Native American, and Eastern ceramics called "Afro-Raku"; and finally, after glazing and burnishing, Yvonne Tucker would incise the pots with freehand, semiabstract drawings. Although the design of the pot in The Potter's House appears fully abstracted, Tucker's vessel designs often vary in content and form to reflect her interests in Zen, African spiritualism, and anthropomorphic forms.

Tucker describes her interest in the process of making ceramics as follows: "When throwing or hand building, I often hold my breath while centering myself in the moment in order to dance in partnership with my silent teacher, clay. It is then that I often feel my hands and mind becoming a conduit for greater forces from the inner realm of the spirit." Tucker's choice to represent herself and her husband, simultaneously touching the clay before them and creating what she describes as "the intangible quality of soul force," is an eloquent testament regarding the importance of the artistic process for the Tuckers.  T. F.


David Driskell
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