Peeler's work is based on fundamental design elements with an emphasis on the relationship of form to nature. His motivation and inspiration often came from natural forms. Richard said, "Nature was the ultimate vessel maker." His work was often a mirror of nature, but other times he intended it to be a symbol or metaphor for nature. He never strayed far from his convictions about the beauty of natural structure. Whether it was a small coffee cup, or a huge outdoor sculpture the same design sense and care gave his work unity.
Many of the sculptural works that he has done refer to the vessel in literal and abstract ways. Marj Peeler told me that "Abstract Sculpture Resembling a Round Pot" was one his favorite works. This title itself is an excellent example of the duality in the perception of pottery. Richard had a sharp sense of the dual purpose that pottery often occupied. Throughout his career he made utilitarian and non-utilitarian ceramics concurrently. This was not a problem to him, but others often asked him if it was frustrating to make small useful pots when he was an internationally recognized sculptor and artist. Again the common assumption that utility diminishes an objects value as a higher art is evident.
I had many discussions
with him about the nature of function and utility. Once when a visitor
to his studio asked what a non-utilitarian sculpture, that had been
made on the potter's wheel, was for, Mr. Peeler replied, "It is
art." Later I asked him for more insight on this encounter. He
told me that if a ceramic creation is not to be used, but only looked
at then he believed it operated on a more sculptural level whether it
was a round vase or a free form sculpture.
Before his death in 1998 Richard was honored in the NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) catalog HEROS, ICONS HISTORY, MEMORY.
(Todd Wagoner From "HEROS, ICONS, HISTORY and MEMORY". 1998 NCECA Honors and Fellow Exhibition Fort Worth, Texas. 1998)
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