A retired architect, Sidney Swidler’s fascination with ceramics collecting was influenced by his work as a designer. Swidler has amassed more than 1,000 contemporary ceramic objects since 1984—the vessel form being one of his favorites. He recently donated over 100 pieces from his large collection to the FIA. Whether traditionally inspired or uniquely modern, the objects in The Art of Containment: Vessels from the Sidney Swidler Collection illustrate the versatility of the vessel.
Many of the ceramics in this exhibition feature special glazes, experimental firing techniques, and abstract interpretations of the vessel form. For instance, the mesmerizing bursts of shimmering color that dot the surface of this vessel were created by using a crystalline glaze. This special effects glaze is made primarily of particles of zinc oxide and silica. These two ingredients, along with others, are mixed with water and applied to the vessel in a thick paste. While at peak temperature in the kiln, a chemical reaction takes place between the zinc oxide and the silica, forming seed crystals. Once the object starts to cool, the crystals grow and take a circular shape.
Image: William Kidd, American, b. 1961. "Crusty Vase", 2003. Earthenware. Promised gift of Sidney Swidler