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Ralph Bacerra


Cloud Teapot

22.5 x 21 x 6.5 in.
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation

Like many of Ralph Bacerra’s works, this large quasi-geometric teapot is made of various thrown, hand-built and molded components. Bacerra is known as one of the leading decorative ceramists of the 20th century. His work shows the influences of Asian art, especially Imari porcelain, and the influence of 20th and 21s century abstract artists like M.C. Escher. Bacerra was one of the first American studio potters to create highly decorative surfaces using enamels and lusters. The rich, vivid jewel colors and contrasts in his characteristic complex patterns are the result of up to ten separate firings; each firing in succession at a lower temperature than the previous. “My pieces are based on traditional ideas and engage in certain cultural appropriations—in form, in design, in glaze choices. . . I am committed to the idea of pure beauty. When it is finished, the piece should be like an ornament, exquisitely beautiful.”

Bacerra was born in Garden Grove, California and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1961, at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, where he studied under the celebrated ceramist and educator Vivika Heino. He then joined the U.S. Army, returning in 1963 to become the Chairperson of Ceramics at Chouinard until 1971 when the department was dissolved. He returned to teaching and also Chairperson of the Ceramics Department in 1983 at the Otis Art Institute until 1997. Bacerra had 16 one-person shows and a profusion of exhibitions.

Billie Sessions, PhD.

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