Baylor and Harding Black
In 1988, Baylor University's Department of Art initiated a relationship with San Antonio-based Harding Black at the urging of William Daley, internationally-recognized ceramic artist and educator (Distinguished Professor, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA), who believed that Harding's contributions to American ceramics had not yet been sufficiently recognized. In 1991, Baylor University's Martin Museum of Art presented a major retrospective of Harding Black's life's work, publishing a catalogue to accompany the exhibition and mailing 2,000 copies to ceramics artists, educators, and institutions throughout the world. Upon receipt of the catalogue, the international journal, Ceramics Monthly, solicited and received from Baylor University sufficient materials on Harding Black to publish a major article on his life and work, featured on the cover of their December, 1991 journal. In 1994, Baylor University Professor and University Ceramist-in-Residence Paul McCoy participated in the production of a public television program on Harding Black (KLRN-TV, San Antonio, TX), which placed Harding historically as a key figure in the development of 20th century American ceramics ("Harding Black: An American Treasure").
During the mid-1990s, although still working seven days a week in his studio, Harding Black's health was declining and he knew that his work was nearing its end. He was most concerned that the overwhelming body of research he had amassed over the prior sixty years and the approximately 200 pots he had retained in his personal collection be preserved and function as a resource and springboard for future research in glaze technology. In 1995, Harding Black gifted Baylor University with his entire body of glaze research (mid-1930s through mid-1990s) and the majority of his personal ceramics collection.
Since Baylor's receipt of these materials, the Department of Art has maintained a permanent display of selections from Harding's ceramics collection and has curated a second retrospective exhibition of his work in conjunction with the 1998 NCECA conference. In addition, tests have been executed to confirm specific formulas for Harding's orange-peel oxblood and oilspot glazes, which were published in John Britt's The Complete Guide to High-Fire Glazes (Lark Books, 2004). Baylor also honored Robin Hopper's request for images of Harding's flame-glazed bowls, one of which was included in Mr. Hopper's third edition of Daniel Rhodes's Clay and Glazes for the Potter (Krause Publications, 2000). The process of inventorying and upgrading the organization and storage of this immense body of work continues today.