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Maija Grotell


Untitled Plate


2 x 9 x 9 in.
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation

Untitled Plate combines Maija Grotell’s background in Scandinavian design with the vivid high-fire colors prominent in American glazes. Known as an avid experimenter with glaze chemistries, her innovations were applied widely to architectural ceramics. The plate’s zigzag pattern is repeated throughout her work, a graphic quality of line inspired by modernist architecture. Known for her larger forms, this smaller plate is from the later part of her career when a muscle condition limited her ability to work on the wheel with large slabs of clay.

Born in 1899 in Helsinki, Finland, Maija Grotell attended the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, where she completed six years of graduate school. There she trained in European methods of ceramic production, especially on the wheel. Upon arriving in the United States, Grotell worked with Charles Fergus Binns at Alfred University. Binns and Grotell clashed over ceramics pedagogy and construction methods. Grotell, along with Marguerite Wildenhain and Gertrud Natzler, is among a key contingent of European émigré women who taught wheel-throwing techniques to students in the United States. Hired by the Cranbrook Academy of Art outside of Detroit, Michigan, Grotell ran the ceramics program there from 1938 through 1966, with Howard Kottler and Toshiko Takaezu among her students.

Matthew Limb

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