Pop Culture
Nov 22, 2022, 06:28AM

Without That Icing, the Cake Isn’t Perfect

A 2022 The Art Newspaper interview with ceramics artist Magdalene Odundo vs. a 1968 Smithsonian Archives of American Art interview with the late painter Norman Lewis.

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Norman Lewis: When you asked me for this interview, you know, I said Jesus Christ, I don't have anything to say. And I don't know what I am going to do.

Magdalene Odundo: I tend to look at how people are interacting with whatever they are doing, even if they are just sitting and looking into space.

Lewis: Nobody hears of these people and yet everybody exploits what they have done.

Odundo: Then there are also the classical Greco-Roman pieces that allow depiction, you can draw on them and tell a story.

Lewis: Yes. [Laughs] That there is no heaven, you know, there is no ceiling up there, there is just infinite space. 


Odundo: Without that icing, the cake isn't perfect.

Lewis: Oh, of course, yes. Obviously. You are back in America.

Odundo: But I think it's crucial, particularly for the oxidized, terracotta red pieces.

Lewis: You know, some guy goes off in the desert and he spends his life just looking at all the plant life that grows here.

Odundo: Once you’ve got that object there, it also allows you to embellish more by adding, subtracting or extracting. 


Lewis: It is just if you are a two-dollar bettor, you are a two-dollar bettor and to bet ten frightens you to death and that if you continue to bet, say as I would bet like five and ten and not feel afraid to lose or picking a horse or stuff like that, or betting in a game.

Odundo: It’s very sculptural but it’s also that notion, that idea that you are the wheel.

Lewis: And this is true, you know, but we don't realize it.

Odundo: Then you touch the neck and open the rim so that it becomes more human and animated.

Lewis: And buy all the things I felt necessary to encourage me to go on and now I have a library of books that I want.


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