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Rebecca Harvey


Press molded and Thrown Porcelain/Polychrome Glazes

Artist Statement

It is through practical activities that we take measure of the world around us. Our understanding of our surroundings are based on our movements through them Our visual sense is only one way that we encounter objects. It is telling that when we want to "see" something what we really mean is that we want to hold it, to grasp it. to judge weight and balance, texture and temperature, to confirm or deny our visual view Use is my primary issue. It is within this arena of physical movement that my work properly resides. It is important that my pieces take an active part in daily life. They are meant to be handled, eaten from, washed, put away. The objects we use daily are our connections, however tenuous, with our immediate past. They have the potential to be imbued with great power for they hold a quiet testimony, a witness to our lives.

While I find myself tightly wed to the concept of use I have no wish to inhabit the somewhat miserly world of streamlined function. There has to be more than the clinical ergonomic performance of the act. While efficiency is laudable in certain task it tends to breed sterility when pursued in a dogmatic manner. All forms of living matter are cobbled from bits of available elements and riddled with the vestigial. "Living as we do in an age of engineering excellence, we have become accustomed to a world of optimal designs; designs that utilize the best materials and perform their intended function with maximum efficiency and economy. But in biology there is no perfection. Every organism, lagging behind the forces of selection that have molded it. exhibits compromise solutions derived from preexisting components. Moreover, most structures are required to perform a variety of separate roles, often with conflicting design requirements. for this reason most animals are generalists upon which certain traits are imposed. "

John Cooke, The Restless Kingdom - An Exploration of Animal Movement

As an approach this is seems ultimately more satisfying, the bringing along of what we are into what we will become.

It is this cobbling of existing components that comprises my current work. I am working with a set of forms that seem to have sprung into being of its own volition it seems to be akin to an organic self-organizing system. Elements that I have made with a distinct purpose are often rarely used while the by-products of other processes or spontaneous experiments may become the ones I use most often. In his book ,Wonderful Life, Stephen Jay Gould describes the proliferation of life forms in the Burgess Shale in this way.

" The model of the grab bag is a taxonomists' nightmare and an evolutionists delight. Imagine an organism built of a hundred basic features, with twenty possible forms for feature. The grab bag contains a hundred compartments, with twenty different tokens in each. To make a new Burgess creature. the Great Token-Stringer takes one token at random from each compartment and strings them all together. Voila' the creature works. "

My work owes an incredible debt to the English majolica of the mid to late 1800's. This along with the silver work of the period on which many of its designs were based serves as a constant- source of inspiration for me. The amount of whimsy inherent in -he work and the specificity of form (oyster plates, strawberry servers etc.) combines with an intense interest with the world outside itself There is this juxtaposition that fascinates me, or. one hand a dead serious devotion to the scientific method and on the other this incredible embrace of frivolity and humor. It forms the classic story of the struggle between the sacred and the profane.

So why make pots? The pull toward utility - the ability to function on more than a purely visual level has always been very important to me. I don't believe that is for practical but rather for tactile reasons. There is this extreme need to touch This need dictates my choice of medium as well as the objects I make and the way that I make them. By making functional pottery I am keeping alive the tactile sense that is inherent in the making. Brining my work into the- arena of the service and enjoyment of food gives the opportunity for intimate contact with the user, the continuation of touch. It is this participation in life that inflects the object with all the shifts and subtleties of nuance that effect language. To cut ourselves off from the power of common objects is akin to rendering ourselves mute, the severing of an ornamental eloquence.

Reconsider the possibilities of the familiar.


PO Box #561 Castine, ME 04421-0061
(207) 326 - 0868


               Masters of Fine Arts in Ceramics
               Cranbrook Academy of Art; Bloomfield Hills, Michigan: 1991-1993

               Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics - Honors - Crafts Department
               University of the Arts,
               College of Art and Design; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 1988-1991

               Studio Arts Program
               Raritan Valley College; Raritan, New Jersey: 1986

               Anagama Program
               Peter's Valley; Layton, New Jersey: Scholarship Recipient 1982

               Fiber Exploration, Summer Program
               Miami University; Miami, Ohio: 1981


               Ceramic Instructor, Studio Based Classes for Adults & Children;
                   Harvey/Thurston Ceramics; Castine, Maine: 1993 - 91
               Ceramic Instructor, Introduction to Clay;
                   Quarton Community Education; Birmingham, Michigan: 1'193
               Ceramic Instructor, Classes for Community Based Art Center;
                   Paint Creek Center for the Arts; Rochester, Michigan: 1992-1993
               Studio Manager, Teaching Assistant Ceramics Department,
                   Cranbrook Academy of Art; Bloomfield Hills, Michigan: 1992-1993
               Substitute Instructor, Ceramics Department;
                   Henry Ford Community College; Dearborn, Michigan: 1991
               Studio Assistant, with Larry Donahue's Plaster Workshop;
                   Haystack Mountain School; Deer Isle, Maine: 1991
               Production Thrower, Dinnerware Multiples;
                   Kasco Products; Bedminster, New Jersey: 1984-1989
               Substitute Teacher, Ceramics Department - Grades 9-12;
                   Pingry School; Martinsville, New Jersey: 1985-1986
               Ceramic Assistant, For Shelly Ruskin Doyle;
                    Constructing Large Scale Ceramics; Morristown, New Jersey 


               Analogue Reality: Crafts and the Haptic;
               The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA: Invitational 1994
               8 x 8 x 8: Small Works;
                 Schneider Gallery, Chicago, IL: Juried 1994
               Strictly Functional Pottery National 2;
                 Market House Craft Center, Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Juried 1994
               Feats of Clay VII;
                 Lincoln Arts, Lincoln, California: Juried 1994
               Clay Directions '94;
                 The Dairy Barn Cultural Center; Athens, Ohio: Juried 1994
               The Element of Craft;
                 Westbrook College, Portland, ME: Juried 1994
               XIVe biennale international de ceramique d'art;
                 Vallauris, France: Juried 1994

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