Object of the Week: Large Storage Jar, by David MacDonald
Born in Hackensack, New Jersey, David MacDonald (b. 1945) first experimented with ceramics in the late 1960s at the Hampton Institute in Virginia, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education. As part of the Art Education curriculum, MacDonald was required to take a ceramics course, and he quickly found that working with clay satisfied a desire to create pieces with dimension, form, and functionality, something he could not do when working in other mediums. After graduating from the Hampton Institute, MacDonald attended graduate school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, receiving his Master of Fine Arts in 1971. Later that year, MacDonald was appointed Professor of Art at Syracuse University, where he taught ceramics for thirty-seven years. MacDonald turned to his African heritage for inspiration early in his artistic career, exploring the patterns and decoration found within African textiles, body ornamentation, and architecture. MacDonald uses utilitarian plates, bowls, cups, jars, and other vessels as his point of departure to create aesthetically beautiful works of art with unique, intricate, and highly refined surface decoration. To create his distinctive line work and geometric patterns, MacDonald uses custom-made tools to carefully carve shallow parallel channels into the leather-hard clay one line at a time. MacDonald made Large Storage Jar on commission for the Everson in anticipation of his first solo exhibition, The Power of Pattern: New Work by David MacDonald, at the Museum in 2011. Standing thirty-six inches tall, Large Storage Jar was one of the highlights of the exhibition due to its monumental size. Large Storage Jar is currently on view in The Very Mirror of Life: Ceramics at the Everson 1968-2018, through December 30, 2018.
-Taylor Rogers, Curatorial Intern & Steffi Chappell, Curatorial Assistant