Utterly original glazes skillfully deployed mark the work of Harding Black “the Dean of Texas ceramics”. Here he galvanizes a muted palette with only two touches of brilliant color, a cobalt blue that frames and anchors the turquoise sky, dun-colored earth and dull green of the plant, and a splash of orange to enliven the earthier russet tones of the man’s pack and his coat.
The American studio potter and glaze researcher Harding Black was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1912. Black had no formal training, but learned wheel-throwing from fellow American potter Rudi Staffel in 1933. Inspired by Native American pottery, be began hand-building earthenware in early 1932 and developed a distinguished career that spanned more than six decades. In 1933 he was appointed ceramics instructor at the Witte Museum Archaeological Society, where he established a ceramics department. In the 1940s he became inspired by Bernard Leach’s A Potter’s Book and oriental pottery and worked with glazes formulated by Arthur Baggs and Edgar Littlefield.
Black established his own studio in San Antonio, Texas in the 1950s. His earliest work was coil-built. Later works were wheel-thrown, slip-cast or press molded. Black has become known as a glaze master after many years of research. In 1991 he was elected an honorary member of NCECA. He retired from pottery in the late 1990s. Harding Black passed away on 5 May 2004. The Harding Black Collection and Archive is housed at Baylor University in Dallas, Texas.