Living Artistic Lives: Lucy Scanlon and Amy Woods

by Ceramics

Lucy Scanlon and Amy Woods, long-time Harvard Ceramics Program participants and teachers, helped mold the Ceramics Program and flourished while doing so. Now, both have redefined their relationship with the program and redirected their individual creative goals. The Harvard Ceramics Program is deeply indebted to both for their long years of excellent service in the development of its program and in the training of its students.Lucy Scanlon, Harvard ‘64, received her MFA in 1987 from the Rhode Island School of Design. As a graduate student, she gave research presentations from original sources that she strongly credits with helping her understand "what I wish my pots were about." She feels that putting her artistic vision into words is like throwing on a kick wheel, where a potter directly translates physical energy into kinetic energy to create a pot.While Scanlon typically developed utilitarian pottery, perhaps her most accessible work is the more than 200-square-feet of tiled environment she designed and manufactured for one of the bathrooms at the Ceramics Program studio. The soda-fired aqua blue tiles, inspired by her love of the sea, are strongly evocative of water, with deep, undulating relief.A long-time Ceramic Program instructor, Scanlon asks her students to begin where she does – exploring forms and motifs that offer excitement and personal intrigue. She explains: "I work in two different veins: functional pottery based on animal, plant, house and boat motifs, and tiles and murals based on water imagery." Scanlon has recently retired from teaching to devote more time and energy to those specific artistic projects and to her family. Amy Woods grew along with the Harvard Ceramics Program from its very earliest days. As a beginner student of Nancy Selvage, Woods took 14 lumps of clay and proceeded to make 14 dinner plates in 10 hours. Thus began her pursuit of utilitarian dinnerware.Over the years, Woods developed a design process as interesting as her final product. She amassed random toys and found objects, and by studying their colors, shapes and surfaces created visual collages and patterns until an idea emerged. Colored paper shapes layered onto her pieces informed glaze decisions. The final pieces are vivid, imaginative and whimsical, glazed brightly - a playful nod to Fiesta Ware - demanding to be touched.Woods’ ceramic pieces reflect her interest in both popular culture and ancient traditions. Her elaborate sets of serving and presentation vessels transformed the dining experience. Tabletops became abundant gardens – alive with snails and insects – or ocean fleets of vessels transporting food. In Crescendo, the tableware, serving pieces, plates, bowls, and cups became actors in a drama spread across the table.After 30-some years as program participant and teaching assistant, Woods now has engaged poetry as her primary creative expression. She explains: "I found myself unable to express all I had to say by visual means alone." -The Ceramics Program, Office for the Arts at Harvard []