Ruth Duckworth (1919-2009)


Stonewave wall panel on plexi

Located in the third floor atrium of Gordon Center for Integrative Science, 929 E. 57th Street

Donated by Carolyn Sachs in memory of husband Robert G Sachs

Artist profile

Eighteen stoneware cylinders rest on a backdrop of gray plexiglass in Ruth Duckworth’s untitled 1972 sculpture. Duckworth formed the vertical semi-cylinders from slabs of clay and marked them with deep, striated grooves. She then deformed each cylinder by pushing, compressing, and twisting. Duckworth left most of the stoneware unglazed, save for sporadic patches of earthy gray, brown, and black. She also included small stones and coarse sand in the clay, making the stoneware dry and rough and emphasizing her medium’s natural origin.

Clay is earth, the result of ceaseless grinding of rocks, strong winds, and the force of water. It can then be molded, formed, and hardened into ceramic at temperatures hot enough to melt glass. Unlike paint or graphite that lose their obvious connection to natural sources after processing, the medium of stoneware is necessarily recalls nature. By adding in sand and other inclusions, Duckworth made the clay brittle and inelastic. Through its medium, Untitled (1972) addresses the relationship between humanity and the plasticity of earth. Her treatment of clay left jagged edges and tears reminiscent of violent fractures in the Earth’s crust as one might see on the coasts of Scotland or in the mountains of Nepal.

Written by Innis Gallagher, Student in the College

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