By Katie Lee
Since 1909, Greenwich House Pottery has fostered some of the most prominent artists in New York City, from Jackson Pollock to Ghada Amer. Today, it houses the brilliant Alice Mackler.
Mackler’s recent work, such as her 2013 solo exhibition, has been hailed as “nearly perfect” by the likes of Art F City due to its combination of sharp political commentary, playfulness, and unmistakable individuality. The work includes an array of delightfully lumpy, vibrant figures portraying the many forms of the female figure, encouraging viewers to re-think their conceptions through perception. Indeed, what makes Mackler’s work so remarkable is that she mobilizes the compelling visual qualities of her work to prod at the viewers’ expectations of femininity, gallery art, and aesthetics.
One of the most notable attributes of Mackler’s work is her abundant confidence. In an interview reflecting on her growth over the decades, she stated, “I feel more comfortable with my work now, and I know that I am doing my best work.”
Mackler also gives young artists the same advice she gives herself, “Keep working, and tell yourself that you are a better artist than anyone else,” a sentiment that has proven to be effective and powerful. Mackler knows her uncanny ability and abandons reservation. In this way, Mackler compounds her feminist assertions on the female body by introducing the intersection of seniority with pride. Art in America critic Eric Sutphin writes, “[t]he unself-conscious, subtly bawdy figures convey the sense that the aging body is not only beautiful, but also sexual.” This erotic energy is enhanced, rather than inhibited, by age.
Despite her recent success in ceramics, Mackler actually had her beginnings in painting. Her early work has been compared to the likes of Matisse, as she uses large swathes of vibrant color and curving forms to represent women.
Expanding the media open to artists and enabling the evolution of a diverse artistic career is the primary goal of Greenwich House Pottery Residency, a project-based residency program open to established artists not currently working in clay. Residents chosen by Greenwich House Pottery receive access to ample resources from the organization. The facilities include professional equipment and materials—including some of the only gas kilns in the New York area—unlimited clay, stock materials, and a coveted studio space. The residency culminates in exhibitions at the Jane Hartsook Gallery.
For artists already experienced in clay, Greenwich House Pottery offers its Fellowship Program. Fellows are required to have a sustained and lasting involvement in ceramics and are integrated into the Greenwich House Pottery community through studio visits, informal discussions, and frequent attendance.
From July 21st to August 18th, the work of recent Greenwich House Pottery Residents and Fellows, including Mackler, will be on display in the Jane Hartsook Gallery. The exhibition provides an opportunity for the public to appreciate the work created by Greenwich House’s Residents and Fellows while also cultivating excitement surrounding what Mackler will create before her residency’s end.