(b. 1933, Brooklyn, New York) lives and works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Teapot with Stand, 1975, stoneware, 9.5 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches, 93.39.104ab
Robert Winokur learned pottery from his mother, who was a ceramicist, but only began to seriously explore art after taking a ceramics class in high school to improve his grades. He furthered his education by studying ceramics and art history as an undergraduate at Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Pennsylvania from 1952-56, and as a graduate student at New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in New York from 1956-58. After college, Winokur joined the faculty at Norths Texas State University in Denton, TX, where he taught for five years before briefly opening a studio space in Ashfield, MA, with his artist wife Paula for two years. In 1966 Winokur returned to his alma mater, Tyler School of Art, as a professor of ceramics.
In the spring of 1971, under the auspices of the International Academy of Ceramics, the Tennessee Arts Commission pledged its support for the promotion and establishment of the U.S. International Ceramic Symposiums. The Symposium’s mission to help develop a worldwide network of support for ceramic art was achieved by bringing together top ceramic artists from around the world for a month-long sharing of ideas and creation of innovative ceramics.
Left and Center: Winokur trimming clay, Right: Bucket, stoneware, 93.39.154 Video Below
Winokur represented the United States at the Second U.S. International Ceramic Symposium, which consisted of twelve artists from seven different countries, and was hosted in the summer of 1975 at the Arrowmont School of Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN. While participating in the Symposium, Winokur constructed a number of beautiful functional vessel forms, decorated with color blocking, incised lines, and painted with slips, salt glaze, and a blue ash glaze.
Following the Symposium, he taught at Tyler School of Art until his retirement in 2005, after which he has continued to make work and exhibit. Over the years the subject of his work has shifted from functional ceramics to an exploration of the idea of a house as a vessel, and an examination of architectural forms combined with representational forms of a diverse range of subjects, such as asparagus or ladders. Winokur draws inspiration from the joyful and innocent geometry of children’s drawings of houses, and strives to achieve that childlike directness in his own work.
Winokur has exhibited widely, and has actively participated in a number of symposiums, residencies, lectures, and workshops. Winokur’s work is in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the International Academy of Ceramics in Geneva, Switzerland; the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, California; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in Texas, the Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Arts at Alfred University in New York, and at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.
Written by Aiden Layer, TN Arts Intern