University Museums

Media File
Media File
Title: Vase
Name: Vase
Date: 1924-1930
Period: Arts and Crafts
Medium: Earthenware
Country/Culture: American
Dimensions: 3 3/4 × 5 1/2 in. (9.5 × 14 cm)
Marks: "ISC/Ames" pottery stamp; "Y" in circle, incised.
Classification: Decorative Arts, Ceramics
Credit Line: In the permanent collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: U84.6
More Information
For six years, from 1924 to 1930, Paul E. Cox, head of ceramic engineering, and Mary Lanier Yancey, a ceramics instructor, collaborated to create marketable handcrafted art pottery at Iowa State College (now Iowa State University). Yancey worked as the designer in the collaboration while Cox operated as technician and promoter of their products, working tirelessly to increase awareness of ceramic engineering at Iowa State. Cox was a graduate of Alfred University, an accomplished student of Charles Binns and an innovative ceramics technician. Cox typically threw the pottery freehand then Yancey decorated the wares with a carved or incised design and inlaid painting. She often used abstract or realistic patterns of clover, lilies, poppies, jonquils, tulips, blackberries, maple seedlings, and pinecones and needles.

Cox personally favored classical simplicity, as seen in this large vase. He occasionally distributed his own objects among those exhibited as Iowa State College Art Pottery, however, he knew works like Yancey’s were more popular in the public market. In their collaboration, Yancey fulfilled the role of artist, and Cox respected her work as a designer. Her honest drawing, design and color appealed to a wider audience and Cox, whose main objective was promoting the pottery, recognized its marketability. The artistic partnership of Cox and Yancey ended in 1930 when she married, moved to Massachusetts and became a studio artist. Cox left Iowa State College in 1939 and never returned to academic life. However, he remained an active potter until his death in 1968.