Reigning Antelope

Reigning Antelope
George Whitten & Annette McCormick
McCormick - Born 1949, Whitten- Born 1949
Acquisition Number: 87.9
Medium: Glazed earthenware
Size: 37" x 22" x 7"
Date: n.d.

Inside a ramshackle barn that once housed chickens and hogs, George Whitten creates pottery by a method known as raku. His work carries on a tradition dating back to the 15th century in Japan. Raku involves heating a pot in a kiln, then exposing the red-hot pots to the air before tossing them into barrels of straw and sawdust that instantly burst into flames. The sudden shock of cool air on the glowing pots cracks the glazed skin, and the flames inside the barrel darken the unglazed area and fill the cracks with smoke. "Each piece is one of a kind – I can never duplicate anything I have done, says Whitten. The element of chance is really there. I can put all the knowledge I have into a piece, but I can’t control the smoke or fire…you submit it to the fire and what it gives you back is what you get". Annette McCormick’s animal imagery stems from a journey to East Africa in 1972, a year after she received her BFA at Florida Atlantic University where she still had access to the university ceramic studio and continued to work with clay. She continued her studies at Memphis Academy of Fine Arts, Wichita State University, and Ashland University. While in Africa, she came across elephant carcasses with tusks removed, and saw warehouses with tusks stacked like cordwood for export. She also saw spotted big cat skins stacked to the ceiling in seedy districts in Nairobi. These experiences left a profound effect on McCormick as an artist as she has incorporated elephant imagery into various works. Throughout her career she sculpted many other African species such as rhino and antelope—always with a thrown vessel of sorts as background.