Liz Quackenbush

Biography

Liz Quackenbush is a potter who works in her home studio in Seattle, WA.  A maker of many things including sweaters, wooden jigsaw puzzles, food for all of her friends, and more, her first love is ceramics.  She found this passion during high school in Franklin Lakes, NJ.  She found her long-time mentor, Betty Woodman, at the University of Colorado, where she received her BFA.  Liz went on to receive her MFA at the Rochester Institute of Technology.  She has taught, lectured, and exhibited across the globe including Wales, Morocco, Italy, and in the U.S. in Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, Washington, Tennessee, and many others.  For 23 years she was a professor at Penn State University.

After retiring from teaching in 2018, Liz harnessed her sense of adventure and moved northwest to Seattle. She is currently serving on the Board of Pottery NW. Her works are included in many public and private collections including the Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art at Alfred University, the Huntington Museum of Art, WV, the Aberystwyth Arts Centre at the University of Wales, UK, the George R. Gardiner Museum, Toronto, Canada, the Arizona State University, AZ, and the NCECA permanent Collection

Artist Statement

When I was initially searching for my own artistic voice as a ceramic artist, I recognized kindred spirits in ceramic traditions that found inspiration in their immediate environment. More than forty years have passed since I first became aware of Cretan “octopus” pots decorated with the image of the Mediterranean octopus they were designed to catch on the seafloor, Peruvian fertility jugs sculpted in the form of copulating frogs, and Chinese Han Dynasty stacked-house pieces, which included figures leaning from windows spilling dirty water off upper balconies. I remember the time when I first realized what all of these folk pots had in common: The beauty found in everyday life inspired them. I’ve drawn from them all, in decorative motifs and in sheer physicality.

After many years of looking outward to other traditions for artistic inspiration, I started responding directly to my own life and environment. Spending time each summer living in the green hills of Vermont and at the Jersey shore, has had a profound effect on my work. The damp lushness of Seattle is recognizable in the imagery on my recent pottery. Seeking to seduce the user with the dynamic natural charm of clay, my work romanticized the nature of the environment I explore. Patterns of animal and reptile skins inspire some of my surface decoration decisions. The forms of these creatures give birth to some of my pottery forms. For example, toads found underneath rocks by my seven-year-old son inspire my Frog Flasks. Seeing chickens roosting in a hen house inspired my Chicken Butter Dishes.

My goal in creating ceramic work is to bridge the divide between elegant china and down-to-earth pottery. I deliberately leave clay surfaces irregular so that they look handled and handleable. Including hints at my observations of the world, I want my pottery to invite use, while also subverting contemporary “run of the mill” preconceptions of what pottery is, can, and should be. As I seek to develop my own “garden of earthly delights” motif, I draw inspiration from the tradition of personal intimation in ceramic form and decoration that has been handed down, quite literally, through the ages.

More information about Liz can be found at: lizquackenbush.com