Baylor University Celebrates Life of Ceramist Harding Black with Lecture and Exhibition

Harding black
Sept. 21, 2015

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WACO, Texas (Sept. 21, 2015) – To honor the legacy of American ceramics pioneer Harding Black, the Baylor University department of art in the College of Arts & Sciences and The Texas Collection opened an exhibition of his works in August. In conjunction with the exhibit, Paul McCoy, professor of art, Baylor’s Ceramist-in-Residence and director of the Allbritton Art Institute, will present a lecture titled “The Life and Art of Harding Black: The Power of One” at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, in The Texas Collection’s Guy B. Harrison Reading Room.

“My lecture is geared toward a diverse audience, ranging from people who knew and worked with Harding Black to those who have an interest in ceramics and Baylor’s unique academic resources but who are completely unfamiliar with Harding Black and his contributions to American studio ceramics,” McCoy said. “A central focus of the lecture will be his unique contributions to the ceramic arts and the significance of the Harding Black Collection and Archive as a 21st-century resource within the global ceramic discipline. I will also be emphasizing the extent to which Harding committed his life to the needs of his community and those who we classify today as ‘underserved.’”

Black, 1912-2004, was an American ceramics artist and researcher who began his work with clay in the 1930s. Baylor’s department of art had a longstanding relationship with Black since 1988, and in 1991, Baylor’s Martin Museum of Art presented a major retrospective of Black’s life work. In 1995, Black gave his entire body of glaze research and the majority of his personal ceramic collection to Baylor. The Texas Collection at Baylor has since partnered with the department of art in an effort to process and digitize Black’s extensive research notes.

“The life of Harding Black is a remarkable story of human passion, commitment and perseverance,” McCoy said. “Today, no one would argue that Harding Black was not successful in his pursuit of his life’s goals. Yet, in his life, Harding never knew financial stability. Our students are moving into a world that they cannot fully know or prepare for. Harding’s story underscores the importance of identifying and pursuing one’s passion while maintaining a commitment to our humanity, our moral compass and to the life of the community we find ourselves living within. These are lessons that students of all ages need to be reminded of.”

When Black passed away in 2004, McCoy, a close personal friend, delivered his eulogy to the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts annual meeting. McCoy hopes that future generations of students and researchers will continue to build on his legacy.

“This exhibition and lecture were developed to call attention to a unique resource that has been entrusted to Baylor University,” McCoy said. “Harding Black created what is considered by many to be the largest body of personal ceramic research in America during the 20th century. The fruits of his research are in evidence throughout ceramics produced in the Western Hemisphere during the last half of the 20th century and in these early years of the 21st century. Equally significant is the role of the servant-leader that Harding’s life epitomizes. These are things worth calling attention to.”

The Texas Collection’s current exhibition features dozens of works from Black’s ceramic collection, curated by McCoy. The exhibition will run through Oct. 14.

The Texas Collection is located inside the Carroll Library at 1429 S. Fifth St. and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday.

A reception will follow McCoy’s lecture.

The exhibition and lecture are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact The Texas Collection at 254-710-1268.

by Ashton Brown, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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