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Juanita Louise Gonzales
American Newcomb College Newcomb Ceramicist
(New Orleans, LA, 1903 - 1935)
Juanita Gonzales was a native New Orleans artist working in ceramics in the 1920’s and 30’s. She was a Newcomb Pottery craftsman, pottery instructor, and architect designer, and also served as chair of the Newcomb Pottery program from 1931to 1935.
Coming to Newcomb College originally on a student scholarship in 1921, Gonzales was soon recognized for her unusual talent and ability. Ellsworth Woodward, Director of the art program, said she was one of the most talented girls he had ever known.
After completing the four-year program in Normal Art, Gonzales received a Bachelor of Design in 1925. She left New Orleans for New York to study with Russian avant-garde sculptor and graphic artist, Alexander Archipenko. While in New York, Gonzales worked also as an independent artist, designing dolls and furniture, while further developing her ceramic style.
Gonzales’s work referenced the avant-garde style of her mentor, and her work stands out when compared to other Newcomb Pottery pieces. Often featuring dripping glaze-work, her pottery used bold colors and abnormal shapes. She was one of the only Newcomb potters to use black glaze, and she used glazing as a decorative motif in-and-of-itself, opposed to painting more literal scenes onto her ceramic vessels, as was typical of other Newcomb works at the time.
While serving as chair of the pottery department, Gonzales pushed the artists into a more modern style. It is in this time period that we see less representational pieces coming out of Newcomb. Artwork such as the Grand Isle Vase by Sadie Irvine, is one such example.
Other than teaching and her work as department chair, Gonzales had her own private art studio in the city where she made her own pottery designs, as well as portrait busts and architectural ornaments. The adornments on both the Louisiana State Medical School in New Orleans and the Louisiana State Capitol building in Baton Rouge, for example, are her works.
Unfortunately, Gonzales became gravely ill in February 1935 and had to resign from her post at Newcomb. Her classmate, Angela Gregory, replaced her at the college.
Juanita Gonzales died July 8, 1935.