The nude brown woman on the water pitcher

Susan Weir Ancker, 1999

While Mother and I were in Ruidoso as I wrote my dissertation, we took a break one day to visit the Art Loop Tour in the surrounding area. New Mexico is home to many talented artists, including painters, textile weavers, ceramics artists, sculptors, and metalworkers. We had stopped at one location on the tour–the studio workshop of Susan Weir Ancker, where I fell in love with this pitcher. Of her work making ceramic sculpture and ‘functional pots’, Ms Weir Ancker said her focus was to

…deal with the struggles and the joys in living a mindful, productive, and satisfying life.

As I picked up the pitcher, examined it, studied on what it was saying to me that I wanted it so, Mother exclaimed, “Why, she is naked!” Now my mother was not at all a prude, having grown up on a farm and also having been a social worker who heard and saw any number of things during her work, but for some reason, she was taken aback at the nude woman on the pitcher. I just replied that indeed, she was naked.

Susan Weir Ancker, 1999

The opposite side of the pitcher had a slightly different version, although it is the other side that most captured my imagination. It sat on my mantel in Texas, next to a prized piece of art work from South African Alphen Ntambane that I brought home in 2002. The two seemed to compliment each other as Ntambane’s work often featured a scene from a township, rendered in delicate watercolors of everyday life with a texture that appealed to me. The watercolor also features shades of aqua and brown as predominant colors.

On occasion, I use this earth mother woman to hold flowers–historically, white gladiolas, but I tend to fill her uplifted arms with white blooms of any kind, dependent on what is available. Out of curiosity just now, I looked up Ms Weir Ancker. She is still occupying her Swan Studios workshop at Capitan, Lincoln County, New Mexico. Her work is exhibited in many area galleries. She looks much as I recall her from my visit, albeit more than 20 years older, as am I. Although there was nothing that resembled this pitcher in her visible art work, there were many pieces that indicated her work is still primarily that of woman in her many different forms. The subject was different, but I did spy a pitcher in this same shape on a shelf in one of the photographs, and some of her other work illustrates that while her work has evolved as she has, it still bears the essence of why I fell in love with this piece those years ago.

And yes, Mom, she is still naked…on both sides. I miss those times with her, but I carry her gifts with me always.

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14 Responses to The nude brown woman on the water pitcher

  1. Beth says:

    Certainly a unique piece of art – I can see why it appealed to you. The shape and form, colors, and symbolism draw one’s eyes immediately to it. I don’t think any color of flowers would look appropriate in it. How interesting that your Mother was also a social worker!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beth says:

    Ooops, correction to my comment. Meant to say I don’t think any other color of flowers. The white is the only appropriate color.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzassippi says:

      I think I knew what you meant, Beth, and thank you. Since white is not a color (allegedly) then I thought you were saying color flowers would not look right. It is funny about Mother being a social worker. I was talking with my new supervisor one day about something and he asked what my mother did. When I said she was a social worker, he remarked “I am not surprised now that I know you.” I was surprised, because I had never really thought about it–she just worked for the Department of Public Welfare in what was then AFDC (Aid for Families with Dependent Children). Later she went on to work at the Department of Health in Aging and Long Term Care, ending her work as a regional supervisor on a survey team. However, it was my supervisor who was instrumental in getting me to pursue a MSW in social work, and that changed the trajectory of my whole life.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beth says:

        Indirectly your Mother influenced you and the supervisor was the spark to continue, sweet story. I was thinking of the white flowers in terms of what they represent as well as in color combinations, although red flowers would set off the colors in the vase, too. The white flowers emphasize the colors and design of the vase without drawing attention away from it.

        White flowers can signify purity and innocence, but can also symbolize unity and strength which is what I was thinking of – the naked woman represents the true woman and her attributes of unity and strength in her life. And, I do love the vase!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. peggy says:

    A unique piece of art. My mother would have said “Peg, that lady is NAKED!” Mom has been gone a long time and I miss her very much. Our mothers were raised in a differnt time. I can see why this pitcher appealed to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Betty says:

    Beautiful pitcher! Love the shades of blue and brown as well as the movement in the pitcher. I love the symbolism, and yes, white flowers are just right. In college, I visited Europe. I came home and showed my Grandma my pictures. When she saw Michelangelo’s David, she said, “He is naked. Someone should cover him up.” I said, “But Grandma, that’s by Michelangelo!” She said, “I don’t care who he is. Someone should cover him up.” I can’t look at that photo or hear of Michelangelo without hearing my Grandma’s voice!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. janebye says:

    Beautiful! And I loved hearing about your mom. And I am cracking up at the other comments, too. I guess we can all relate to parents reacting that way. I can imagine my own mom saying something similar while also not being a prude and being a social worker. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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