Work of major U.S. ceramic artist of 1930s featured

ALFRED — The Alfred Ceramic Art Museum on Thursday will open its spring exhibition, a celebration of the ceramic art of Waylande Gregory, recognized as America’s premier ceramic artist of the 1930’s.

The 1930’s Jazz Age Sculpture of Waylande Gregory will be on display at the museum through July 26.

The Thursday opening will begin at 5 p.m. and include remarks at 6 p.m. by ceramic artist Wayne Higby, director and chief curator of the museum. The reception is open to the public.

Higby notes Gregory crafted the complex ceramic sculpture Fountain of the Atom for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. The statue earned immediate admiration, including the high regard of Albert Einstein, who had joined Princeton University in 1933 as a life member of the newly founded Institute for Advanced Study. Fountain of the Atom exemplified many features of the art deco movement in design and at the time was the world’s largest ceramic sculpture crafted in the modern era.

Gregory was born in 1905 in Kansas and became interested in art, and ceramic art in particular, at a young age. He studied at the Chicago Art Institute and worked for the Cowan Pottery Studio, in Cleveland, OH, where he designed many of his now famous Art Deco works, including Salome, Nautch Dancer, and Burlesque Dancer. He was the first ceramic artist to teach at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, in Michigan, and later worked in New York on Works Progress Administration projects. His WPA mural, Democracy in Action, was installed on the exterior of what is now the Daly Building on Indiana Avenue in Washington DC. In 1939, he received the Charles Fergus Binns Medal, one of the most prestigious honors in the field of ceramic art.

Visitors to the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum may already be acquainted with one of Gregory’s monumental sculptures, Mother and Child, which was once the centerpiece of the fourth Syracuse Ceramic National of 1935. Mother and Child, now is a central feature of the Museum’s permanent collection.

The 1930’s Jazz Age Sculpture of Waylande Gregory is made up largely of Gregory’s sculpture on loan to the museum from the collection of art historian Thomas C. Folk, who currently teaches at the New York School of Interior Design and at New York University. Folk will deliver a lecture on Gregory’s life and work, Understanding Waylande Gregory: a Monumental Vision for Ceramics, at 4:30 p.m. in Room 106 of Binns-Merrill Hall on the Alfred University campus. The lecture is open to the public.