Floraforma, handbuilt shallow bowl with dark bronze glaze PHOTO BY JACQUELINE WEAVER

Passion to preserve the ocean drives artist



WINTER HARBOR — Jane Louise’s life has been all about being on the water and what goes on below the surface of the sea —particularly the effects of pollution.

So, it is not a stretch that her sculpted pottery, a devotion which dates back to 1967, reflects the ocean and the life within it.

Louise’s work is the focus of a show “Oceanic Pottery” running July 1-31 at Hammond Hall in Winter Harbor. Schoodic Arts for All will hold an opening reception, featuring live music, will be held from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 2, at Hammond Hall. The music will be performed between 4 and 5 p.m.

These bisque-fired forms are ready to glaze.
JANE LOUISE PHOTO

The Winter Harbor ceramicist said her most profound water experience lingers to this day. That was when she and her former husband and two children spent two years living on a boat in the 1970s.

The family saw pollution hundreds of miles away from shore.

“This was so troubling that we recognized that the health of the oceans, in fact, the planet, was becoming dangerously overwhelming,” Louise said. “The entire body of my work for the last 30 years has been devoted to the oceans.”

Her artistic focus then became very specific — phytoplankton, single-celled organisms that are the first link in the food chain.

Phytoplankton’s growth depends on the availability of carbon dioxide, sunlight and nutrients.

“It is very important to me that my art visually reflects, and thus communicates, the concern that I have for this important problem,” Louise said.

All of her pots are vessels that are meant to contain food, flowers, stones — any variety of things.

The themes embedded in the pots take varied marine forms such as whale flukes, plankton, waves, kelp, gills, fins, sponges and water, among others.

A three-legged hand built bowl inspired by ocean waves with a foam-like glaze.
PHOTO BY JANE LOUISE

Her glazes are intended to show depth and variety of color depicting the elusive quality of the ocean and what may be beneath the surface.

Louise applies many layers of different glazes and fires them multiple times until she achieves the desired effect.

Her interest in pottery developed as a young woman.

Louise started with traditional wheel-throwing pottery. In 1985, she enrolled at the Swain School Design/University of Massachusetts, where she learned to make more sculptural pieces.

When her first husband was enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Stanford, Louise decided to start a pottery studio for the students in the dormitory.

“I had to convince the dean of students to give me money, and he did,” she said. “I have been making pots every since in basements, kitchens, living rooms and even in the Virgin Islands.”

She has worked as an administrative assistant at Columbia and Yale; director of development at the Cape Cod Sea Education Association, and as a research assistant at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

She was an instructor at the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in Rockland for two summers and has been coming to Maine since 1974.

Fish platter using fingering technique and glazes representing sand and waves.
PHOTO BY JANE LOUISE

Louise moved to Winter Harbor in 2010.

She was born in Detroit and her family moved to California when she was a child.

At varying times she has lived in New York, the Virgin Islands, Florida, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Her two adult children are Jill, an artist who lives in Austin, Texas, and Joe, a professional musician who lives in Milton, Mass. Two of her three grandchildren, Pedro Najar, 17, and Sam Higgins, will perform works for piano, voice and violin at the opening reception for Louise’s exhibit.

Her granddaughter, Louisa, is designing the program.

Louise’s show will contain 45 pieces.

“As an artisan I felt it was time to share what I do with the community in which I live,” Louise said.

Jacqueline Weaver

Jacqueline Weaver

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Jacqueline's beat covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. She was a reporter for the New York Times, United Press International and Reuters before moving to Maine. She also publicized medical research at Yale School of Medicine and scientific findings at Yale University for nine years.[email protected]