Lederer Gallery adds 95 pottery pieces to permanent collection

The Lederer Gallery is in the process of adding 95 pottery pieces to their permanent collection. A gift from the late professor of music Alan Case, the pieces were created by contemporary artists, but are inspired by Native American pottery traditions. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

Geneseo’s Lederer Gallery presents exhibitions of contemporary local and national artists, Geneseo faculty, juried student work and graduating art students’ final projects. With an exciting new acquisition, the gallery is closer to achieving its mission of encouraging art appreciation.    

The gallery recently gained a beautiful collection of 95 pottery pieces from the late professor of music Alan Case to add to their permanent collection. Created mostly by contemporary artists and largely influenced by Native American culture, pieces have the look of traditional tribal pottery. 

Many have intricate details that appear to tell a story and are colorful. There is the exception, however, of some solid black and white pieces. Some pieces even have the silhouettes of animals and people painted and glazed on the surface of the clay. This reveals the very traditional aspect of Native American pottery. A lot of the detailing or painted images symbolize unique parts of their culture and values.   

The pieces are believed to be from the late 20th century, as many of the artists have engraved their names on the bottoms of their work. Some of the artists share the same last name, leading to the belief that some are related. This would not be surprising, as Native American customs and traditions such as pottery making were handed down from generation to generation.

Most Native American pottery pieces used coils, which are layered on top of each other to form the sides of the pot or bowl and are not adorned with detailed patterns or designs. This collection, however, breaks the mold and is considered to be fairly contemporary.

We know that several steps went into the creation of these pieces. They are made with mostly red or black clay and are fired and glazed several times before completion. Each piece is unique in size, shape and color. The details are painted on the surface of the dry clay and then put in a kiln to glaze and become permanent.  

Director of the galleries of art Cynthia Hawkins said that she hopes to feature these newly acquired pieces in a black and white exhibit by September. 

Hawkins said that the collection of pottery fits nicely with the gallery’s older pottery collection, which consists of native and southwestern pottery from the 1940s, as donated by a former Geneseo faculty member. The pottery in this collection is older and more rustic, most likely made for utensil rather than craft. 

Nevertheless, Hawkins said that this beautiful addition to the gallery will “extend our understanding about the quality of Native American artwork.” Although these pieces are not antiques, Hawkins believes that the quality and history of this collection is immeasurable and deserves recognition. 

Many have asked why Hawkins doesn’t sell the pieces, but “you can’t put a price on these,” she said. She explains that these pottery pieces are exactly what art history majors might find in a textbook, and Geneseo would be wise to hold onto such a collection that adds culture and authenticity to our art community.