Wayne Higby (born in 1943)
Object Place: Alfred, New York, United States
27.94 x 46.99 x 42.54 cm (11 x 18 1/2 x 16 3/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
Thrown bowl with curved sides, slightly altered from the circular. White, blue, brown, purple, and gray glazes with crackle from landscape decoration. Raku fired.
Wayne Higby studied painting in college but became a ceramist after an epiphany during a junior-year trip abroad. While traveling in the Mediterranean, he visited the Heraklion Museum on the island of Crete, where he encountered Minoan pots of the Bronze Age. As he later described the experience, he was swept away by the pots and their “magnificent sense of shape, volume,” and painted decoration; he claims, “I became a potter the day I walked into that museum.” Upon his return to the United States, Higby sought out training in ceramics and studied with studio potters Betty Woodman and Fred Bauer. He has since become a leader in American ceramics, teaching for more than thirty years at the famed New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred, New York, and producing work that has been exhibited and acquired by major museums across the country.
A landscape image that envelops both the interior and exterior of a vessel is the dominant motif of Higby’s elegant ceramics. The artist credits his childhood in Colorado with instilling his love of “being in the landscape.” Like the nineteenth-century American landscape painters he admires, including Albert Bierstadt and Frederick Edwin Church, Higby says he tries to capture a sense of being in a particular geographic place. At the same time, he highly values the clay vessel as a format for his work, focusing particularly on the large bowl form because of its universal, abstract qualities.
This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.
Impressed seal at foot: WH
On bottom: "84" in oval
Purchased by MFA, 1984, from Helen Drutt Gallery, Philadelphia.
Gift of Mary-Louise Meyer in memory of Norman Meyer
Reproduced with permission.