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Posted Sunday, January 16, 2011
New Orleans, LA - Mark Hewitt's Big-Hearted Pots will be on view at the Ogden Museum of the Southern Art in New Orleans, La., January 13 - April 10, 2011. Eighteen of his signature "big pots" (several of them five feet tall and three feet wide), will form Hewitt's first major exhibition outside his home state of North Carolina.
"Regional pottery traditions are rare; they are like wild flowers that only grow in certain special soils and microclimates," writes Hewitt. Well-known for his advocacy of North Carolina pottery, Hewitt co-curated the critically acclaimed exhibition, The Potter's Eye: Art and Tradition in North Carolina, with Nancy Sweezy, at the North Carolina Museum of Art in 2005. Hewitt used the occasion to examine the poetic attributes of 19th-century North Carolina utilitarian pottery, looking at them through a lens provided by Japanese aesthetes and connoisseurs, and developing a language of appreciation that adds to our understanding of this great American roots tradition.
Last year the British-born potter, who has lived and worked in Pittsboro, North Carolina, for 27 years, was invited to install 12 big pots on the lawn outside Duke University's Nasher Museum, in a show entitled, Falling Into Place. Writing in the exhibition catalogue, Henry Glassie, College Professor Emeritus at Indiana University, talked about the labors involved in making pots, and about Hewitt's role in the resurgence of the South's pottery tradition, "Every day there is work, hard work; there is local clay to handle, local wood for firing. At the center, with his colleagues from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, stands this tall, handsome man from England, Mark Hewitt in place, at home productively, inspirationally at work, a great American master."
In the catalogue to the Ogden's current exhibition, Christopher Benfey, Mellon Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College, writes, "The vision of North Carolina pottery that Hewitt conveys in his writing and in his work is audacious and compelling. He talks the talk and walks the walk; in doing so, he has bent inherited tradition into potent new shapes. His big-hearted pots are on a truly heroic scale, heroic in conception and execution. They place him in the company of the great folk potters who have preceded and inspired him."
Presenting these massive contemporary manifestations of the old tradition in New Orleans seems appropriate, says Hewitt, "This show is my big-hearted gift to a big-hearted city."
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