I placed a jar in Tennessee,

And round it was, upon a hill.

It made the slovenly wilderness

Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,

And sprawled around, no longer wild.

The jar was round upon the ground

And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion every where.

The jar was gray and bare.

It did not give of bird or bush,

Like nothing else in Tennessee.

Wallace Stephens


In his poem Wallace Stevens describes a moment of recognition. On a hill, surrounded by wilderness, he writes of his awareness of the contrast between a man-made object, the jar, and the natural environment.

The paintings present this moment of seeing abstracted nature surrounding and declaring its difference from the measured, manufactured form.

The ceramic pieces embody the idea of the poem in a different way. They are jars. They are “round upon the ground” but the regularity, the symmetry of the wheel-thrown form has been manipulated into something more irregular. They are bent and molded to suggest organic forms, the surfaces marked, incised, stamped and stained to echo the natural environment.

—Elizabeth Strasser