Artist makes light of flaws

Danielle De Luna
News Editor 

Artist Kim Tucker and staff at the American Museum of Ceramic Art highlighted the role of humor, heart and community in ceramics during Pomona’s Second Saturday Artwalk last week.

Tucker was one of 14 artists exhibiting at the AMOCA in “The Incongruous Body,” a show curated by Pitzer Professor of Art Tim Berg.

Berg, focusing on “the power of the figure,” found Tucker’s playful ceramic representations of the body fitting for a show centered around the humorous dualities of the human form.

“When I went to visit Kim’s studio she had all of her pieces laid out on a work table,” Berg said. 

“I was attracted to the intensity of having this community of characters there all at once. I wanted to recreate that overwhelm with her display.”

Tucker’s collection of sculptures, sketches and paintings feature a cast of characters that appear to have jumped from a retro-psychedelic, claymation fever dream.

A delicate balance of coy flirtation and compassionate humor rest in the smooth lumpy edges of her hand-built figures and their mottled washes of primary pastels.

“I like to put a community of my pieces together all at once,” Tucker said. “It’s about what I’ve been taking in as I go along, and letting the interior world manifest on the outside.”

At AMOCA’s “Artist Talk” Saturday night, Tucker spoke about the mentors, methods and inspirations that define the work she creates in studio. 

“I’m not loyal to a particular material or method,” Tucker said. “Nothing is planned, but I have themes that keep repeating themselves. These hairy monsters are somewhat inspired by children’s shows from the ‘70s, but they also reflect an acceptance of imperfection.”

Artists Viola Frey and Mary Jo Bole have been key inspirations and points of reference for her studio practice and methodology, Tucker said.

Frey, whom she worked with while attending the College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, inspired her to make sculptures with coils that retain the imprint of her fingers, giving them their bumpy texture, Tucker added. 

“Viola and Kim became the bookends for this show,” Berg said. “Their art is related to one another, and placed at opposite ends of the exhibit, serve as a chronology in lineage.”

AMOCA Director of Advancement and Communications Paul Roach said “The Incongruous Body” has been a success for the museum, and is excited for future of the ceramic and arts community in Pomona.

“The museum is only 15 years old, and I think with that comes all the excitement and angst of being in this teenage stage,” Roach said. “The museum is really sustained off of philanthropy, so the next step would be securing endowments.”

The museum’s 12,000 square foot Cadillac dealership turned studio space features original ceramic tile flooring from the building’s first incarnation as a bank. Outside of the climate controlled throwing room rests a makeshift communal sink constructed of a large plastic bin, a hose and sponges.

“At Pomona College I really had to work for more funding,” Roach said. “But here, it’s clear when I show potential donors our wash bin and say ‘You know, it’d be wonderful if we could have a sink.’”

The prosperity of the AMOCA and the services it provides to the local artists and arts education is dependent upon the prosperity of local government, Roach added. 

“There’s been a complete turn over in civic government over the past two years,” Roach said. “They’re really trying to re-imagine Pomona’s image, and show that there is opportunity here and it is a safe place to live.” 

Ceramic art is also on display at the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College in Claremont for the 75th Scripps College Ceramic Annual, AMOCA Executive Director Beth Ann Gerstein said. 

“This is like the best three months ever,” Gerstein said. “There’s clay everywhere.”

Danielle De Luna can be reached at

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