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Tribute to Sylvia : Fulfilling a Final Request

Tribute to Sylvia : Fulfilling a Final Request

Sylvia Hyman, a woman passionate about her craft, had a talent at finding ways to integrate her life into her work. Her ability to take an everyday object and pull out its beauty carried over into her attitude toward life. Becoming her own medium exemplified everything Sylvia strove for in her art and left behind a legacy of a creator, innovator and exceptional craft artist.


Tennessee Craft is honored to have this piece of Sylvia’s legacy.

In her own words, Susan DeMay describes creating a final piece for Sylvia Hyman:

During her last four to five years of life, Sylvia, her last assistant, Cathy Moberg, a couple of other clay artists and I would get together for drinks and discussion. These were special moments that we were all cherished.

Then one day Sylvia invited me to come by and discuss a special project she had for me. She wanted me to make her burial urn for the time when she passed away, and she wanted me to make the glaze from her ashes and glaze the urn with them – Sylvia wanted to become her medium!

She asked as well that the urn be in my oval vessel style. The urn was then to be filled with the remainder of her ashes and then given to the Tennessee State Museum where it would join her sarcophagus, a work that was part of the collection museum collection.

I went to work immediately on this project and made three urns altogether – just to be sure that I got a final resting place that was worthy of my special friend. I once asked her if she wanted to see the three, and she declined – she trusted me, she said. I was not so confident so planned to glaze each urn in different ranges, again just to be sure. Sylvia’s magic was with me and all three came out so well. I let the state museum pick their favorite. Then I decided to give the other two urns to other places that were dear to her: the Peabody/Vanderbilt Art Collection and Tennessee Craft.

The one that ended up at the office of Tennessee Craft is glazed with a kaki glaze and fired in a gas/reduction kiln.

I have been so honored to fulfill her request and I believe Sylvia would be pleased that she had become her medium in such a special and beautiful way.

Thank you, Susan, for your generous gift. And thank you Sylvia, for your legacy.

All three of Susan's urns.

All three of Susan’s urns.

The urn given to Tennessee Craft in situ.

The urn given to Tennessee Craft in situ.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 15th, 2014 at 4:23 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Tribute to Sylvia : Fulfilling a Final Request”

  1. Roy overcast Says:

    Absolutely great , Susan and yes I know Sylvia would feel great about the forms and glazes used. I have such good memories of Sylvia and her teaching techniques and her great work and the evolution of her work. I met Sylvia in 1969. Of course totally intimadated by her and her work. She was a great influence on me and her work ethic of course was a big part of her influence! Miss her!

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