BROOKINGS, S.D. — If you peer closely and listen with your eyes, you can sense it in the shapes and shades and designs of his pottery—that certain something that made Dick Edie realize at a very young age that he was different.
“I was three, standing in my mother’s lap,” Edie recalled. “Her eyes were open and mine were shut. I could feel my mother’s eyes. That was significant. It’s my earliest memory.”
Three years later, after a thunderstorm, Edie remembered looking at a water stain and clearly seeing the image of a standing man.
“My brother, who was five years older than me, couldn’t see it,” he said. “I knew I was seeing things at a very young age that most people don’t grasp. I realized I was unique.”
Edie went on to study art and, in 1956, accepted a job at South Dakota State University, where he taught art for 31 years and, along the way, became adept at creating three-sided forms out of six-foot slabs of clay.
More than 200 pieces of Edie’s pottery will be on exhibition and for sale Tuesday, Sept. 7 through Friday, Sept. 24 in the Ritz Gallery of Grove Hall at SDSU. A reception with the artist will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10.
“It’s my final show,” said Edie, professor emeritus of visual arts at State, who moved a year ago from his Brookings home to Dow Rummel Village in Sioux Falls. “I’m trying to close things down.”
Signing and Singing stones
Edie was hired as the fourth person in State’s newly-formed Art Department; before that, art was taught through Home Economics. He said he taught it all—painting, drawing, design, ceramics, printmaking and, something that has greatly influenced his work, calligraphy.
“Pottery is similar to lettering in a way because you’re working with your hands to create forms,” Edie said. “Lettering is making forms with lines. The business of making forms out of clay is a byproduct of lettering.
“You can see the calligraphic focus in the imagery of the pottery. It’s abstract music.”
The son of a Presbyterian minister, Edie sees a theological influence in his work. One piece is reminiscent of a cross. Another, a gravestone.
“I call them stones,” Edie says. “Each one of these pieces is a stone. When you set up a grave, you mark it with a stone. When there’s a change in a pathway, you set up a stone to mark the change.”
Every potter has his own recipe for clay, Edie said, as well as a plan setting out. The latter, however, will likely change along the way.
“An artist always has an outcome in mind, but the outcome can be modified because you design things as you go along,” Edie said. “It’s the same with life itself. My life has not been planned by me. It just flows.”
Tim Steele, acting head of the Visual Arts Department, and Lynn Verschoor, director of the South Dakota Art Museum, are coordinating Edie’s exhibition and sale.
There is no admission charge to visit the Ritz Gallery, which is located in Grove Hall between Mathews and Brown residence halls, southeast of The Union on the SDSU campus. Visitor viewing hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, interested people can call the Visual Arts Department at 605-688-4103.