Exploring and experimenting with clay led to new discoveries for Harue McVay and spanned her career.
McVay’s diverse ceramic work is on exhibit Oct. 25-Nov. 25 (except Veterans Day) from 1-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and Sundays at WCC’s Gallery ‘Iolani and features about 100 of her contemporary pieces from over three decades.
McVay used traditional forming techniques like wheel throwing and hand building and manipulated them to produce new structures, combining metals and resins into her ceramic work. She also created large-scale sculptures with cement.
A professor emeritus at UH-Mānoa, McVay said, “Technique is incidental to form, but it is vital that the proper one be selected to ensure the survival of the piece through the ceramic process.”
Born and raised in Hawai’i, McVay studied art at UH-Mānoa under the legendary Claude Horan who was considered the “father of ceramics” in Hawai’i and received her bachelor’s degree in 1950. A year later, she received her master’s degree at Ohio State University.
She taught ceramics for 43 years at UH-Mānoa before retiring in 1993 as an emeritus professor.
McVay is an inspiring teacher who brings enthusiasm for clay to her students and a readiness to explore. She said that she always wanted her students to know what being an artist was all about.
“You couldn’t keep doing the same thing,” said McVay in a Honolulu Star-Advertiser story from Oct. 25. “You had to demonstrate that you could experiment and be successful.”
Her work was selected for USA Clay at the Redwick Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York, Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and the Honolulu Academy of Arts (now the Honolulu Museum of Art).
“She is one of the finest ceramic artists in the state,” said art professor and gallery coordinator Toni Martin. “Her sense of color and design within the ceramic form is stunning. For me, her work is joyful and playfully elegant.”
Exploring was always evident in McVay’s work, which redefined ceramics in Hawai’i and the world.
by Debbra Baetz, Ka ‘Ohana Editor in Chief