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Beatrice Wood

Tides in a Man's Life
about 1988
earthenware
11 1/2 x 5 1/2 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Kenneth R. Trapp in honor of Shelby M. Gans on the occasion of her appointment to the Board of Commissioners of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Created when the artist was ninety-five years old, the piece is one of Beatrice Wood's finest achievements. Of special interest is the brilliant gold-luster glaze. As light plays across the piece, the glaze appears to shimmer with fire and constantly transform itself. The ceramic can be read as a metaphor for the stages of human struggle and attainment. An exhausted man hangs onto the bell-shaped body of the piece. One figure helps another to gain his footing in his climb. Finally, a man stands triumphant on top of the ring handle.