"Pioneers of American Ceramics" Ezra Shales, Ph.D.
Fourteenth Dorothy Wilson Perkins Lecture Alfred Ceramic Art Museum September 10, 20154:30 pm, Nevins Theater, Powell Campus Center Alfred University Campus Alfred, New York
Ezra Shales, PhD is a Professor in the History of Art Department at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. His Ph.D. is from the Bard Graduate Center and M.F.A. from Hunter College.
He has authored essays on diverse topics, from Victorian toys and the role of artisans in building the Empire State Building and writes about contemporary practices, too. His book, Made in Newark (Rutgers University Press, 2010), explores craft as an anchor of regional identity in Progressive-era New Jersey.
Shales is currently working on a book exploring the ways drinking vessels in North America are culturally-loaded talismans that brim with political and social power and completing a manuscript titled "Common Craft" that will be published by Reaktion Books.
He was the originating curator of Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft, and Design, Midcentury and Today for the Museum of Arts and Design, New York City, which drew on the scholarship of O Pioneers! Women Ceramic Artists, 1925-1960, an exhibition at the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum. He developed this body of research over the eight years he taught art history at Alfred’s School of Art and Design while teaching classes devoted to ceramic history, discussing art with students, alumni, and colleagues, and conducting research in the Scholes Library archives.
Dorothy Wilson Perkins Ceramic History Lecture Series
The Alfred Ceramic Art Museum established the Dorothy Wilson Perkins
Ceramic History Lecture Series in 1998, thanks to a generous
endowment gift to the Museum by Dr. Lyle Perkins (BFA
Alfred '39; MFA Alfred '47) in memory of his wife, Dr.
Dorothy Wilson Perkins (BFA Alfred '39).
Wilson Perkins Lectures Click on Lecturer Names
to View Lectures
Annual Lecture: "Between
a Toilet and a Hard Place: Is the Ceramic Avant Guard
a Contradiction in Terms"
Born on September 20, 1917 in Hammond,
Indiana, Dorothy's family eventually settled in Wellsville, New
York where she graduated from high school with honors in 1935. The
following year she enrolled in Alfred University taking courses
at the New York State College of Ceramics, where she completed her
B.F.A. degree (again with honors) in 1939. Offered a scholarship
at the Ohio State University, Dorothy took graduate courses with
Arthur E. Baggs, who had been a former student of Charles Fergus
Binns at Alfred. She received her M.A. degree from O.S.U. in 1940.
Returning to Wellsville, Dorothy married her Alfred classmate Lyle
Perkins in the University's campus chapel. They moved to Hershey,
Pennsylvania where her husband was teaching. After a period of Navy
duty for Lyle and teaching for Dorothy, Lyle completed his M.F.A.
at Alfred in 1947. They next moved to Providence, Rhode Island.
During the 15 years that Dorothy taught at the Rhode Island School
of Design she made the majority of her creative pottery. At this
same time she also wrote numerous articles for Ceramic Age and Ceramics
Monthly; produced pottery for exhibition here and abroad; taught
two consecutive summers for Charles Harder at Alfred; and traveled
extensively. In 1951 both Lyle and Dorothy started programs at O.S.U.
leading to doctorates in 1956. When Lyle and Dorothy began their
lengthy commitment to the programs at the University of Massachusetts
in 1962, Dorothy was barred from taking a faculty position due to
nepotism rules in place at the time. Nonetheless her many accomplishments
in life included exerting a strong influence in the ceramic world
which lasts to this day. Her ceramic work can be found in numerous
collections, including those at O. S. U. and the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum.
the first slide librarian at the University of Massachusetts at
Amherst (1971) and upon her retirement in 1981, that facility was
named in her honor. Dorothy Wilson Perkins died of lung cancer on
August 17, 1996. Her memory will live on through those who knew
her, her splendid ceramic pieces, and through this Dorothy Wilson
Perkins Ceramic History Lecture which will be held each fall. Lyle
Perkins died June 20, 2005.