art for everyone. every monday morning.

Chuck Hindes • American B: 1942

Untitled Vessel • Clay 16” x 6” x 6.5”

Nothing lasts. Nothing is finished. Nothing is perfect. The Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi turned Chuck Hindes from a potter searching for perfection to a ceramicist celebrating the imperfections of life. The transformation must have been similar to a man who realizes the world isn’t filled with Playboy Bunnies and, instead, appreciates the beautiful, real women he meets every day.

Gone were perfectly thrown pots with surfaces covered in beautiful glazes. In their place Hindes created hand-built pots with imperfect shapes and weathered, unglazed surfaces that gave people something to contemplate rather than worship. He used a special wood-firing process to expose the clay’s true character as trapped oxides rose to the surface in beautiful, unpredictable hues. His pots became weathered celebrations of life rather than pursuits of perfection.

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“The function of my pots is to be looked at. Not on a shelf, but to hold and turn in your hand. To contemplate.” He first saw the beauty of imperfection in books about the Japanese tea ceremony while a student at the University of Illinois. The folk art pots he saw didn’t measure up to conventional ideas of beauty. They were apparently weathered from years of use. Their shapes were asymmetrical rather than perfectly round. There were chips in the bases. They told stories of lives lived doing more than sitting on a shelf. Lives filled with promise and failures. Lives that would someday end. Nothing lasts. Nothing is finished. Nothing is perfect.

As he journeyed to Japan and other Asian and African countries Hindes learned how to build new pots with the character and flaws of long lived lives. He likes to talk about how his pots mirror the Abstract Expressionist aesthetic, giving the viewer something to contemplate rather than a definite narrative to follow. He talks about animation and gesture, the directions and flow of their form and surfaces that kick-start imagination and contemplation. Each pot becomes a not-quite-accidental blending of artist, object, material and viewer into stories unique to each. An art critic once called a Hindes’ teapot “humorous” to which Hindes replied, “I don’t think of them as humorous at all. I’m making a statement about a teapot.” Chuck Hindes celebrates life.

Canton Museum of Art Permanent Collection • Gift of Don Pilcher in Memory of Ava Potter Pilcher, 2012.10


4 Ways to Sound Smart When Viewing at The Canton Museum of Art

“Chuck Hindes creates pots that don’t have a definitive narrative to them. You could say he’s an abstract expressionist potter.”

“He was once criticized for making a teapot that didn’t allow water through the spout. You know his work’s not supposed to be functional, right?”

“As soon as he started teaching at the University of Iowa he took up half the parking lot with a giant kiln. That’s quite a first impression.”

“Parts of Hindes’ unique wood-firing techniques have been learnt through his travels to Japan, Korea, and Nigeria.”


Hindes Timeline. Scroll over images to see timeline.