There’s much to say about the life and career of Malcolm Davis, and for all those who attended The Art School at Old Church’s memorial exhibition on June 30th, there was the opportunity to share fond memories, anecdotes, and life lessons learned from knowing the man dubbed “The Shino Warrior.”
It was an event that was moving, uplifting and a positive reminder to Davis’ far reaching impact on the people for whom he touched; in friendship and within the profession. So, here’s some wonderful expressions by some dear friends when remembering Malcolm, mixed together with images of some Davis pots placed on exhibit for this special one-week celebration at TASOC’s Mikhail Zakin Gallery.
Many of you thanked us [Old Church] for doing this exhibition, and my answer is: How could we not? Malcolm was such a gift to the Center and to the life of the young potters that we had to do this. It was a labor of love. – Mikhail Zakin, The Art School at Old Church co-founder.
He was there for the Shino Symposium [NYU, 2001] right after the Shino show, and for this moment, not coming out as the Shino Warrior, but as a carbon-trapper, and the delight in finding something to continually explore. Is there a “thank you” for leaving us your magnificent glaze? It’s hard to say. With the crawling, pinholing, and the glaring orange in the mix? We simply wouldn’t have it any other way, my enduring friend. – Deborah Rosenbloom, Potter.
Malcolm so deeply loved Judy. You may not know it but she was the center of his life. He had friends all over the world, but he had one Judy … she was his brick. – Angela Fina, Potter.
A portion of a letter read by Mikhail Zakin on behalf of Judy Davis; Malcolm’s beloved.
… A final word about Shino and Malcolm. Shino is not so much a particular formula, there are literally hundreds of them as it is an appearance and appeal to our senses. What you see depends on your perception. Shino glazes can be white, orange, red, salmon, gray, Malcolm Shino; now in thousands of studios around the world, yields carbon-trapped black spots in spaces of red and oranges. Shino glazes have the tendency to craze, crawl, and fall and are all considered flaws. But what they lack in correctness, they offer in rich and textured variations and unparalleled aesthetics. [Zakin: Malcolm is … we’re substituting Malcolm for shino] … Malcolm is, and is not. He could be, but often wasn’t. He could be silk and satin. He could also be old white paint. He could be thin, or he could be thick. He could be red, white and also gray. He could be subtle or he could be bold. He could be gorgeous but then he became gaudy. He could be steady, but sometimes was fickle. He depended on the clay and on the fire. He depended on you and me and on the viewer and the user. Malcolm and shino just was, and remains a challenge. — Judy Davis, 2012
There’s something that Malcolm helped me learn about being a potter, and about being an adult. I lived in NYC for about 14 years; from 1982 to 1996, and worked at a pottery called Super Mud Pottery, and every year we’d gather a carpool of students and come to the Old Church for the show in December, and that’s where I met Malcolm. Malcolm was one of the people we wanted most to come and do a workshop. We invited him to come, and he came. One of the students that was in our class was 12 years old at the time. He had gotten a special dispensation to be part of the adult class — Jonathan, a very special student. And Jonathan participated with all the adults. He threw with porcelain, he faceted, he made lids, he engaged in the adult conversation that went on in this workshop, and at the end, Malcolm wanted to talk about this student. So he came to me (I was the studio manager) and his mouth hung open in the way only Malcolm’s mouth could hang open; with surprise, and he shook his head and he spoke about this student with incredible admiration. But then he also spoke about the experience of having this student with some anxiety and with some envy, and I know this is really a very naughty thing; to speak about somebody’s dark side at a memorial– no, no, no, not a good thing, but what it showed to me was also the very bright side of Malcolm, that he would reveal himself, and reveal his vulnerability to people that admired him immensely – he would take that risk over, and over again. And that was a really hard thing for me to see as a twenty-something year-old, that mentors, people that could show at a place like Old Church, whose work was in galleries all over the country, who are confident in their work, could have that kind of doubt and vulnerability and be somewhat shaken by other individuals was amazing to me. It’s something that now challenges me to be a better teacher and a more vulnerable teacher. –Louise Harter, Potter.