Cradle of liberty, cradle of craft

William Daley
Born in 1925 in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, William Daley, a self-proclaimed "mud man," was raised in a home that valued art and poetry.14 In the wake of Pearl Harbor he enlisted and served as an aerial gunner in the Army Air Corps. After the war he took advantage of the GI Bill and enrolled at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. A class with Charles Abbott, a ceramist from Maine, introduced Daley to the idea of making pots.


Oval Chamber by Daley, 1986. Slab-constructed and oxidation-fired stoneware; height 40 ⅜, width 23 ⅜, depth 20 ½ inches. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D. C., gift of the James Renwick Alliance and museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program. 

After graduating, he enrolled at Columbia Teachers College where he received a master's degree in art education. Daley joined the Philadelphia College of Art (PCA), now the University of the Arts, where he taught many now established ceramists. He retired in 1990 and today dedicates himself to a studio practice.

Daley's work focuses on the vesica, a form that is an ovoid at its core. He describes the space that is created by the intersection of two circles as "an ancient icon which informs the mystery of two as a new one."15 Although these vessels are not functional in the strict sense, they are meant as spaces or containers for contemplation.16 His vesicas are steeped in ceramic antecedents but display a structural and spiritual vocabulary that is very much their own. ERA

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by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton

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