Jenni Sorkin F'14, F'08

Jenni  Sorkin
Associate Professor
History of Art and Architecture
University of California, Santa Barbara

ACLS Fellowship Program 2014
Assistant Professor
History of Art and Architecture
University of California, Santa Barbara
Live Form: Women, Ceramics, and Community, 1945-1975

Ceramics has been overlooked within the history of modern American art. Yet it is a medium in which women artists pioneered a hands-on, participatory teaching style, summer workshops, and therapeutic practices for returning war veterans. Through a series of three case studies focused on women potters, “Live Form,” examines the gendered legacy of craft pedagogy as it turned outward from an object-only orientation toward an embrace of community engagement, personal enrichment, and social participation during the post-war era.

Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art 2008
Doctoral Candidate
History of Art
Yale University
Live Form: Gender and the Performance of Craft, 1940-1970

While the 1950s can be characterized by a widespread attention to form in American arts and letters, exemplified by Abstract Expressionism and New Criticism, the handmade has been occluded in discussions of mid-20th century formalism. This project reframes mid-20th century formalism within a discourse of gender, craft pedagogy, and artistic labor between 1940 and 1970. The dissertation focuses on three American women ceramists, each of whom utilized form as a conduit for social contact: Marguerite Wildenhain (1896-1985), Mary Caroline (M.C.) Richards (1916-1999), and Susan Peterson (b. 1925). At a time when women were virtually excluded from painting and sculpture, studio craft provided a vital arena for women as teachers, thinkers, and makers.