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Walter Ostrom

American/Canadian, b. 1944

Flower Brick with Decoration in the Style of Cafaggiola

12.25 x 9.6 x 7.25 in.
Gift of the Nora Eccles Treadwell Foundation

Walter Ostrom has been described as an “innovative traditionalist” leading the revival of maiolica—brightly colored and decorated, low-fired tin-glazed earthenware pottery—using local clay. His 2004 Flower Brick with Decoration in the Style of Cafaggiola illustrates how he seamlessly merges art and craft by honoring both tradition and innovation. From Ostrom’s embrace of conceptual art in the 1970s to his current exploration of the social foundations of ceramics, he has been instrumental, through his almost forty-year career, in stressing the role of fine craft within the visual arts.

Born in 1944, Ostrom came of age during the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War. After studies in biology and chemistry at the University of Buffalo and Wilmington College in Ohio, he switched to ceramics, earning his BFA and MFA at Ohio University in 1969. Hired to teach studio class and Asian art history at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in 1969, Ostrom was one of many American artists who moved north to Canada during the tumult of the Vietnam War. He was head of the ceramics department at NSCAD from 1969 to 2008, and was an honorary professor in 1996–97 at Jingdezhen Ceramics Institute in Jianxi Province, China. In 2020 he was selected by the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts for the Excellence in Teaching Award.

Billie Session , PhD.

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