OMCA Delves into Life and Work of Local Ceramics Legend Edith Heath

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Light-skinned hands use a tool on a dark clay teacup.
‘Untitled (Finishing a Teacup Edited),’ c. 1970; photographic print from the Edith and Brian Heath Collection in the Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley. (Oakland Museum of California)

Like New Time at BAMPFA, this exhibition exploring the life and work of designer Edith Heath (co-founder of Heath Ceramics) was meant to take place in 2020. (Gosh, we missed out on so much art last year!)

Accustomed as we now are to the beauty and heft of Heath products—and all the cultural cachet that accompanies them—it may come as a surprise that Heath’s use, starting in the 1940s, of locally sourced California clays was a major departure in the world of ceramics. This show includes her hand-thrown and early production pieces, architectural tiles, clay and mineral materials (a self-trained scientist, Heath regularly experimented with glazes and firing techniques), photographs, video, personal letters and more. I’ll bet you good money there’ll be some Heath products available in the OMCA gift shop, too.

Edith Heath: A Life in Clay’ is on view Nov. 13, 2021–June 26, 2022 at the Oakland Museum of California.

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