Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Inspiration: Adelaide Alsop Robineau

Adelaide Alsop Robineau, bowl, Porcelain, 1924. (source)

Adelaide Alsop Robineau, The Scarab Vase or Apotheosis of the Toiler, Porcelain, c. 1910.

Adelaide Alsop Robineau is a very inspiring figure- Mother of three, teacher, painter, ceramist, all in a time when that was not the norm. She was born in 1865 in Connecticut, and her interest in art was spurred by the decorated pottery showcased in the world's fair. She was not alone in that- one of the best parts of Ceramic history is the way that women infiltrated it around the turn of the century(or really prior to that, perhaps even all through ceramic history- but that's a different post). Because decorating ceramics was seen as 'women's work'- the sort of thing genteel ladies would sit around doing- lots of female artists worked in potteries as decorators- in fact some of the most technically challenging, innovative and intricate works were done by women.

Robineau was determined to go past decorating though- and make her own forms- they are both feminine and the epitome of craftsmanship. The most well known of her pieces is The Scarab Vase, which has over 1000 hours of work in it. She wanted, with this piece, to elevate the perception of the craftsman, and I don't think any other work highlights the extreme skill and time needed to really master your craft, as well as the 'worthiness' of craft (which is another whole set of posts).

I'm a painter by training- mostly- my major was painting, anyways. But I was hard pressed to decide between Painting and Ceramics, ultimately I think like a painter, not a sculptor- I suppose I'm more interested in surface texture and depth of space than I am in form, so painting feels natural to me. Regardless of that, I'm also drawn to clay, and this sort of heavily carved- surface decorated pottery speaks to me- (though I'm sure it speaks to everyone- how could it not?).

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