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Rick Dillingham     Gas Can

Gas Can
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Luria and Trudy Luria Fleisher from the collection of and in memory of Michael Stephen Luria
1981, glazed earthenware, 19 x 17 1/4 x 3 7/16 in.

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Working in New Mexico, Rick Dillingham found a source of inspiration for his ceramics in the ancient Mimbres culture. Excavations of Mimbres sites in southern New Mexico have produced beautifully painted low-fired pottery punctured with holes; archaeologists believe these pieces were ritually "killed" in order to release the inherent life force that would otherwise have been trapped in the clay or decoration. In his mature work, Dillingham would break and reassemble his ceramic forms, creating objects with a patchwork appearance. Dillingham found beauty in the commonplace and the ugly, as we see in his appropriation of the form of a gas can for this piece.