March Issue 2001
Museum of York County in Rock Hill, SC, Features Works by Winton & Rosa Eugene
A new component of The Difference in Dirt:
The Difference in Families is on view in the Museum of York
County's Local Accents Gallery in Rock Hill, SC. The exhibit will
continue through Aug.
This is the second of three exhibitions focusing on families who produce pottery. Whether by choice or out of necessity, cottage industry methods of pottery production are still used throughout SC. Many of the families producing pottery in the state work together. Winton & Rosa Eugene: African American, Self-taught Potters from Cowpens, SC features a variety of thrown, pinched and coiled ceramic forms, which are hand painted, etched or carved with Southern motifs and images of their family and friends. The couple has molded their love of art and heritage into a unique pottery business that keeps them busy filling orders from around the country.
Since 1986, Winton and Rosa Eugene, husband and wife artisans, have successfully developed a unique line of functional and decorative stoneware. Winton Eugene is a self-taught potter with no formal education in art. Prior to his days spent at the pottery wheel, he was a hog farmer. In the early eighties, he watched as his children worked with clay on projects at school and thought that this was something that he would like to do. His wife, Rosa, a nurse by trade, watched her husband's pottery interest grow and bought him some books on the topic as a gift to occupy his time and ease his hog-raising troubles. Soon thereafter, Winton purchased a potter's wheel and taught himself how to turn. Within six months, the couple's garage was filled with unglazed pottery. When Winton experienced difficulty in making glaze stick to the clay, he enlisted his wife's help. Ever since, the two have been collaborating on the family business.
Three years after Winton started throwing clay, Rosa quit her nursing job. Initially she applied the glazes and organized their business affairs, but today she enjoys creating stoneware pottery along with Winton in their studio in Cowpens, SC. The Eugenes produce traditional forms such as jars, pitchers, bowls and vases; however, the designs which they carve into and/or paint onto the surface of the pots are the focal point of their art.
Each individual piece carries a message about the cherished heritage from which these two artists have come. Whether reflecting on the past or exploring a concept such as dignity and pride, their works cause the viewer to be captured by the artists' remarkable ability to speak through the clay medium. Their works evoke imagery and memories from a past shared by African-Americans and Caucasians alike. Their messages reveal a universal ancestry of man.
Their work has been featured in museums and art galleries across the state and as far away as China. Often art professors or trained artisans ask from where they received their art degrees or formal instruction. Rosa tells them, "We got our degrees from the University of Jesus Christ. We really don't fit into a category." Everything they know about pottery and their work, they have learned through reading and experience.
Winton says that pottery came late in his life. "Art has always been with me and influenced by my grade school and high school teachers." He practiced his art by decorating and designing school billboards, prom sets and anything else that needed to be drawn. To complete the family connection, clay work by the couple's two grown children, Adrian and Fredriana, will be seen along with their parents' work in a collaborative section of the exhibition called "Faces of a New Generation".
Winton & Rosa Eugene: African American, Self-taught Potters from Cowpens, SC complements The Difference In Dirt: South Carolina Pottery & Ceramic Arts on exhibit through Aug., 2001. These exhibitions are funded in part by Bowater, The Charlotte Observer, Jim & Judy Udick, and the South Carolina Arts Commission.
For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings or call the museum at 803/329-2121 or visit the website at (http://www.yorkcounty.org).
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