Student's pottery makes connections to the past and future

A ceramics graduate student's work reflects his Southern roots, travels and passions.

Andrew McIntyre is a burly guy with a long drawl, the kind of guy most people would describe as a little bearish, but his hands are as delicate as a surgeon's.

Andrew McIntyre is a potter.

Growing up in a creative home in the deep South (his grandfather was a carpenter, his father an ice sculptor, his sister a photographer), McIntyre discovered ceramics young and then, as he puts it, “just kept on throwing.”

“I would hope they would tell of community, of conversation, of connection.”
- Andrew McIntyre

Through the years, the Syracuse University ceramics graduate student's pots have come to be almost an extension of himself, pieces that reflect his roots, his passions, his own story.

“Growing up in Mississippi, we would go down to visit my grandmother on Sundays and she would pull out her china for dinner," McIntyre said. "As soon as we were born she pulled the china from the cabinets and polished the silver and I realized people can have an experience with these pieces."

His pots — brown, round, voluptuous pieces — are meant to be used, meant to be valued, meant to be passed down.

A potter, unlike almost any other artist, realizes his works tell a story of a time. It is not lost on McIntyre that anthropologists now can determine the ways and feel of an entire civilization by looking at an ancient vase. He’s thought about what would happen if his pieces are found some far off future.

“I would hope they would tell of community, of conversation, of connection,” McIntyre said.

One of his bowls  brown with a clean green glaze, the color of a lake in winter — is circled by several smaller, removable bowls. A similar pot, slightly darker in color and shallower in depth, has its rim hooked with removable spoons, Asian in shape but deep Yazoo red in color.

There is no way someone could think to use these pieces without being surrounded by family and friends, no way they could want to use them alone. They are communion-like in their very nature.

An avid traveler, McIntyre lets his times in China, India and Italy influence his pieces now.

“These are all cultures where a meal is," he said. "You don’t just sit down together. ... It’s a production, you share and talk and spend time with each other.”

Looking at McIntyre, the medium he’s chosen begins to make sense. It’s tactile, malleable; it lends itself to his whims, his fancies and his desires. If he wants it to be a set of cups perfect for sipping coffee together, or a pot large enough to hold chili for a family of eight, or even just a simple platter one can bring to a wedding, a funeral, a birthday  moments in a lifetime that his pottery can see a person through  he can do that.

“If my pieces stay on a shelf, it’s fine, but I’d rather them use it,” McIntyre said.

And as for himself?

The artist said his list of ambitions is lengthy yet simple: to be a studio potter, to be a teacher, to set up his own kiln, continue to make his own work and to “just keep throwing.”

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