Written by Lola Taylor
“The Color of Daily Life: Majolica Pottery” by ceramic artist Linda Arbuckle is on display in the Southern Utah Museum of Art through Feb. 28. All of her ceramic pieces are created using majolica glaze on terracotta clay. Arbuckle will be at the museum for the Southern Utah University art and design department’s Art Insights series Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. Her presentation will discuss how to design pottery surfaces. Admission to both the museum and Art Insights is free and open to the general public.
Growing up in a ‘50s-style housing development where all the houses looked the same, Arbuckle quickly learned how to create items from household goods to customize her environment. This creative spark fueled her desire to study art. She received her BFA in ceramics with a minor in photography from the Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design. Arbuckle has been a professor of ceramics at Louisiana State University and the University of Florida and is currently the Professor Emerita of Ceramics for the School of Art and Art History at the University of Florida. Her exquisite artwork has been featured in juried shows, festivals, workshops, and lectures across the United States.
“More, better, faster has been my mantra since school,” said Arbuckle. “Which is funny because I’m actually a very slow worker. I believe it takes making a lot of work, and usually failing a lot, to learn and grow. The work is not a plateau — you don’t reach nirvana and then just coast — but a constant effort.”
Arbuckle describes her artistic work as functional pottery that is made to engage the user in a fun, playful way in everyday life. Her pieces are often indulgent in the amount of decoration and color due to her belief that daily life is the ground zero of values and meaning. She finds inspiration for her designs from diverse sources: nature; plants; Japanese crafts, such as kimonos and baskets; textile prints; fashion magazines; historic and popular culture; and other artists, especially Japanese artists Hiroshige and Hokusai.
When asked to describe the most fulfilling part of her work as an artist, she said, “As an artist, the problems I solve are re-invented regularly, asking me each time to bring myself to the issue and come up with a solution. Having the thrill of the chase, and the potential for defeat or satisfaction but always a learning experience and an opportunity for growth is a lifetime of engagement that never gets old. While I’m in studio, everything else recedes into the background while I think about the technical and intellectual challenges in front of me.”
Susan Harris, acclaimed ceramic artist and professor of art at SUU, first became acquainted with Arbuckle when they were both board members on the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts. Since then, they have become old friends, sharing art. Harris invited Arbuckle to present at SUU because she is the best-known and widely understood to be the premier ceramic artist in the United States that uses majolica techniques in her work.
Speaking of Arbuckle’s influence on her personal work, Harris said, “Linda has had a far reaching impact on me as an artist, teacher, and participant in the ceramic field. She is an inspiring and uncommonly generous teacher, sharing technical and philosophic information with thousands of people worldwide via the web, her hands-on demonstrations and workshops, and in countless textbooks and periodicals on ceramic art. I am very grateful for her friendship.”
For more information about Linda Arbuckle or to view how she creates her stunning pieces of art, visit her website at lindaarbuckle.com.
Art Insights is hosted during the fall and spring semesters by SUU’s Art & Design faculty. Students and community members meet to experience presentations and discussions by visiting artists and art educators from around the nation who share their work and insights.