June 2, 2022, 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM

Ruth Duckworth: Life as a Unity

Various University of Chicago Locations

Ruth Duckworth looking through the maquette for Earth, Water, Sky in 2005. Photo by Jim Newberry.

To register

When Ruth Duckworth arrived in Chicago from London to teach at Midway Studios in 1964, she planned to stay for a year. Instead, she remained in the city for nearly 50 years until her death in 2009—more than half her life. However, she is still primarily known as a “British studio potter,” rather than as an innovative Chicago sculptor, deeply engaged in the natural world, her adopted city, and advanced artistic developments in the U.S. in the 1960s and ‘70s. This symposium makes use of art historical advances of the past several decades to examine her Chicago work in a new light. It investigates the influence of geomorphology, the study of the physical features of the earth, and the nascent environmental movement in her work, beginning with her commission to create a complete environment of clay tiles in the vestibule of the newly built Hinds Geophysical Laboratory at the University of Chicago, moving through to her monumental tile mural Clouds Over Lake Michigan, and then into wall works in high relief, “Mama Pots,” and clay sculptures.

Speakers include: Sequoia Miller, Chief Curator, Gardiner Museum; Jenni Sorkin, UC Santa Barbara; Matthew Chase, Loyola University; Jack Schneider, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and a panel of students.

The event begins with object viewing at the Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Avenue, followed by a conference beginning at 11:00 a.m., at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, located at 915 E. 60th Street. Admission is free and reservations are required for the conference portion of the event only.

The symposium is organized by Laura Steward, University of Chicago Curator of Public Art, contributing to a multi-phase research project including seminar, exhibition, and catalogue as part of Art Design Chicago.