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Glen Lukens


circa 1940

3.75 x 9.75 x 9.75 in.
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation

The surface of Bowl is slightly uneven, due to Lukens’s method of pressing clay onto the outside of a bowl-shaped plaster mold, a common technique for him. He created simple forms to experiment with glaze minerals, which he gathered in the Mojave and Death Valley deserts. Except for his dinnerware, he used lead glazes to get thick colorful effects, such as Bowl’s deep blue interior. The walls of his work were intentionally thick, as in the folk art he admired.

Glen Lukens was born in Cowgill, Montana, attended a teachers college in Missouri, and then Oregon State Agricultural College, where he was required to take ceramics, but since they had no pottery wheels, he coiled his pieces. In 1921, he attended the Chicago Art Institute, where he purchased his first potter’s wheel, made with a sewing machine treadle—a very common mechanism at that time. Lukens was interested in original glaze research and rediscovered Egyptian blue, and eventually Chinese blue. He exhibited turquoise beads at the 1931 San Francisco Golden Gate Exposition. Shortly after this, University of Southern California asked him to join the faculty and establish a ceramics department. Lukens and his students dug California clays and experimented with clay bodies, as materials were hard to get during the Depression. Due to persistent and severe arthritis, he gave up throwing and demonstrating wheel technique. He frequently worked with minority students, particularly in the projects in Los Angeles, where he set up clay programs. He also taught midcareer public-school teachers how to use ordinary tools and materials they could easily acquire.

Billie Sessions, PhD.

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