Punctured Pots: Osteoporosis Series

by Nancy McNary Smith
Nov 7Dec 23, 2023

Pittsburgh-based artist Nancy McNary Smith has been using ceramics to document the implosion of American political discourse, the threats of the plague and the attack of old age over the last few years in two recent series, Punctured Pots and Osteoporosis, on display in the Sculpture Walkway.

The slip cast forms in Punctured Pots interrupt the traditional idea of a domestic clay bowl with piercings, tube rubber and other materials that act as minimally protective spikes to familiar ideas. Many are shaped as boats, reflecting the personal loss of a sailboat used to cruise the Chesapeake Bay for 30 years. These vessels, like some ideas, can no longer hold water and teeter between threat and whimsy.  Whether they are warning or welcoming is up to the viewer.

Likewise, the fragile looking forms of Osteoporosis were slip cast, but so thin that they have become translucent. Their shape is made up with more negative space than clay as a reflection of her own physical and emotional journey into her 80th decade of life. The tentative quality of gesture suggests uncertainty rather than confidence, yet they simultaneously glow with light. This series refers to the artist’s attempts to navigate the rough seas of aging.  However, where one finds apprehension, they also find freedom and joy, begging the questions: What is lost? What is gained?

Since studying ceramics at Columbia University under Elspeth Woody, Nancy has taught and created ceramic art for over 50 years. Her early career emphasized functional works, which she sold nationwide, including a dinnerware design selected by Frank Lloyd Wright for Kentucky Knob house. For many years, her focus has become sculptural, gaining acclaim in museums across the country.  Her work has earned purchase awards from the Westmoreland and Carnegie Museums of Art and is included in  the Peat Marwick Collection of Contemporary Craft.  Instead of teaching, Nancy now hosts an atelier of eight artists in her studio.

Follow Hoyt
Send this to a friend