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juror statement for sfpn

updated sat 10 apr 04


Jean Lehman on fri 9 apr 04

The 12th Annual Strictly Functional Pottery National opens in
Lancaster PA April 24 through May 31 (Memorial Day.) There is also an
opening reception with music and gourmet refreshments on April 23
from 6-8pm. At 8pm, juror Susan Peterson will give a slide
presentation. All are welcome to attend...there is a $10 entry fee
for that Friday evening. After that evening, the exhibition is open
to the public free of charge.

We had 1468 slides entered, and Peterson selected 106 to be in the
exhibit. It was a mammoth job, to say the least!

Excerpts from her juror's statement:

"In this "Strictly Functional" show there are many things to
consider. The obvious--will a pitcher pour and not drip? Can a
teapot be filled to the brim and will it pour well? Does the pot sit
squarely enough? Is the glaze appropriate for the function? -- and
so on-- but do you know how hard it is to see those things in a
two-dimensional slide if the photographer has not considered the
angle to be portrayed? The profile of a pitcher or teapot often does
not, cannot, show the shape of the lip or the necessary sharpness
thereof. Furthermore I could not see the inside flange of any teapot
lid to know if the length of that flange was sufficient to hold the
lid on the pot while pouring tea.

It is almost impossible to choose only 100 or so slides from
1468 slides of basically good work. Then there is the question of
whether purely decorative is also a reasonable function? I chose to
deny this and mostly eliminated purely sculptural or nonfunctional.
The mystique and seductiveness of wood fire, salt and soda fire, are
hard to ignore, but we must consider -- when speaking of function -
the surface of a pitcher, cup, casserole, even a teapot, and the
quality of easy-to-clean as well as whether or not the interior
unifies the whole piece.

Given the above list of difficulties, then what could I judge
upon? First, out of these hundreds of slides one hopes to find a few
that sing lustily, that cannot go unnoticed, that really say "wow,"
for whatever reasons, mostly subliminal. Then I looked for really
functional pieces that could be called beautiful, or whimsical, or
had the elusive attribute we call "presence." Going over each slide
countless times with the projector and screen, as well as by hand,
comparing back and forth, was a monumental task. I do not ask
forgiveness, it's my fault for accepting this jury duty!

Then there is the question of scale. Does a 3 inch by 3 inch
by 3 inch cup pack as big a wallop as a 12 inch tall bottle or a 15
inch platter? In a slide it's hard to tell what the scale is without
looking at the written dimensions of a piece, so I have to say I
looked at the size of every piece on slide, but not all slides had
dimensions, which deterred me. It really means that the smaller works
must be outrageous to hold their own among larger objects. Obviously
the exhibition is popular and I hope that end satisfies the means.

Those I chose are the ones I thought best satisfied our
expectations, but I know I may be surprised when I see them in real
life. Actually I had a good time reviewing a lot of wonderful work. I
tried to choose only one piece from each artist to vary the show and
give more chances. I tried to choose the works that seemed to answer
"strictly functional" as much as I could tell from the slides. I gave
an inch several times for humor or inventiveness or when I couldn't
really see the inside or the outside of a work, I had to hope for the

Susan Peterson, February, 2004.

Jean Lehman,

in Lancaster, PA
Check in on line to see the 12th Annual Strictly Functional Pottery
National exhibition, juried by Susan Peterson, which will open April
24, 2004.