The Life and Art of Harding Black: The Power of One

September 14, 2015 Amanda Norman
Harding Black_Box_11_6_frame16

Harding Black gifted Baylor University his personal collection of thousands of ceramic objects, spanning the length of his career, from the 1930s to the 1990s. The glazes that Black developed are still taught in ceramics programs around the United States, including at Baylor. Harding Black Collection and Archive #3911, box 11, folder 6.

Please join The Texas Collection for a lecture
by Baylor University professor and
ceramist Paul McCoy,

The Life and Art of Harding Black:
The Power of One

Thursday, September 24, 2015
3:30-5 pm

The Texas Collection’s
Guy B. Harrison, Jr. Reading Room
Baylor University

Reception to follow


Among the many glazes that Black worked on over the years, none is more closely associated with him than copper red, seen here on a test bowl. Black built on the work of researchers such as Charles Fergus Binns and Edgar Littlefield to create a stable process for replicating this ancient Chinese glaze.


Black worked extensively with crackle glazes throughout his career. The cracks, or crazing, that give these glazes their unique appearance were at one time thought of as a defect. During China’s Song dynasty, crazing, seen here on a test vase, came to be regarded as a decorative effect.

Harding Black has long been considered one of the pioneers of the American studio ceramics movement, and his work is today held in public and private collections throughout the United States. In 1995, as Black was preparing to retire from 60 years as a teacher, artist, and researcher of ceramics, he entrusted Baylor University and Paul McCoy–his fellow ceramist, fishing partner, and close friend–with his personal collection, in the hope that future generations of students and researchers would continue to build on his legacy. When Black passed away in 2004, Paul McCoy delivered his eulogy to the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts annual meeting.

Harding Black dedicated his life to his art, and to honor that commitment, Baylor University’s Texas Collection partnered with the Department of Art to preserve and digitize Black’s personal research notes, and to photographically document thousands of ceramic objects from his ceramic test collection. This digital archive makes Black’s work accessible to artists and academics around the world.

On August 14, 2015, the Texas Collection opened an exhibit featuring dozens of ceramic works by Harding Black, curated by Paul McCoy. These objects are on view at the Texas Collection through October 14, 2015, from 8 am-5 pm, Monday-Friday. The exhibition, lecture, and reception are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Paul McCoy at

Blog post by Josh Garland, Museum Studies graduate student


Oilspot glazes are among the most visually striking of Black’s work. Seen here on a test vase, oilspot glazes became popular during China’s Song dynasty, and remain so today. Depending on its composition, the glaze can take on a range of colors from blue and gray to yellow and black.


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