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Island Artisan: Jennifer McCurdy

Jennifer McCurdy

“Tsunami Vessel” montage, featuring gilded versions of the “Tsunami” form. “I use gold leaf to create a light source in the interior of the piece, and emphasize the contrast of the interior and exterior of the piece,” McCurdy says. “It also makes the piece rich and luminescent.” Photo by Gary Mirando

As their children grew older, she and Tom started taking her work on the road, doing national gallery tours. “I drive the van, and he works on his computer,” McCurdy says. Tom, owner of McCurdy Motorcars, assists his wife with her shows and handles any business-related matters. He even lends a hand during the creation of her sculptures, gilding many of her pieces. In 2017 alone, they traveled to over a dozen cities across the country to exhibit McCurdy’s work, including in Indiana, Colorado, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Tennessee, Ohio, and New York. McCurdy’s work is also part of permanent collections in a number of notable institutions, such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“Jennifer is one of the few true nationally acclaimed artists on the Vineyard,” says Louisa Gould, owner of Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven. Gould, whose gallery represents McCurdy, says she’s never seen anything quite like the ceramicist’s work, on both a regional and national level. To Gould, her work is more than just art. “She calls them vessels, and they are,” Gould says. “They hold energy—there’s movement, there’s form, there’s flow. They look like they’re living.”

That “energy” Gould refers to is ever-present in the pages of McCurdy’s first book, “Vessels: A Conversation in Porcelain and Poetry” (Schiffer Publishing). Released this past June, the 200-page book is a compilation of over 100 images of McCurdy’s work, accompanied by “inspirational” poetry written by her sister, Wendy Mulhern. “When you start reading it,” McCurdy says, “you see that the images actually illustrate the poetry—there is that clear correlation.” In addition to showcasing McCurdy’s work and Mulhern’s poetry, the book includes in-depth discussion of both women’s creative processes.

Even with her success over the past 40 years, McCurdy says she continues to have that struggling artist mentality. “I’m convinced that it’s part of the journey,” she says. “I would think that if you didn’t have that mindset you’d stop growing.”

“She’s continually pushing herself and her art,” adds Gould. “She pushes the limits, which allows her creativity to grow and her work to evolve.”

For more information about Jennifer McCurdy and her work, visit jennifermccurdy.com.



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