Alice W Dunbar

Sculptor, teacher, friend

Well, at last.

For many years, the internet has been incomplete. How many times have you searched it for some mention of Alice Dunbar, Pomfret School teacher, and come up empty handed? Perhaps she might have said that the 'net was pretty "chewing-gummy", if she weren't so modest? (If you don't think the world is a big place, consider the fact that there is another Alice W Dunbar... sculptor!)

Alice W Dunbar

This poor contribution doesn't begin to do her justice, but it is, at least, at last, a start. If you knew her, I hope you will write with material to be included. For a start, I hope someone can contribute some photos of better technical quality, although I think this captures her personality.

Actually, I was able (October, 2009) to find one reference to Alice on the net. Her family donated the development rights of the land where she had her home, in New York state, to a land conservancy. You can read a .pdf about that, (although much of what's there is here!) by clicking on this link, which will open in a new window. (I'm sure that they can put any donation$ to good use. Such contributions would be (US) tax deductible.)

Alice was a talented sculptor... not "sculptress", by the way, from long before the days of women's lib... who chose to spend thirty years of her life teaching sculpture to 14-18 year olds in a boarding school. She "happened" also to be a brilliant teacher, willing to encourage and help not just the next generation of talented artists, but also anyone with a genuine interest in doing as much as their aptitude, however slight, would allow.

She had five siblings, and at the time of her sudden death in 1996 lived, as she had for many years, on a property about 50 miles SSW of Albany, New York, not far from the Ashokan reservoir. That body of water is associated with the music "Ashokan Farewell", which is apt, as the mood of the piece evokes the atmosphere which one might have found around Alice. She was, incidentally, also an accomplished musician, and shared this with students and colleagues. The property was bought by her schoolteacher and farmer father in 1947.

Her teaching was at Pomfret School, Pomfret, CT

She worked in many media, but perhaps put her greatest energies into bronze castings. She also worked in marble, wood and ceramics.

Her "teaching style" was to create a studio where work was constantly underway. If a student needed advice or guidance, be it in matters artistic or technical, she was always ready, willing, and able, but moslty she taught by example. Most students, most of the time were just getting on with creating something... and so was she. Not only was she an example of what a sculptor does, but also of how a person should live.

Even if you weren't very good at something... she helped you do what you could. That certainly applied to me and using a potter's wheel... but because of the opportunities she created, I can appreciate and enjoy the art so much more. Watch this video... we were given the opportunity to do all that you see, and more. (Some people even achieved results close to what you see!). And the same points about early experiences enriching later life apply to my visit to a ceramics workshop in Morocco.

You can read more about Alice's art at....

.... if you register with the site... or visit on a Friday!

She is in the database of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, but the entry was very limited when I visited in October 2009.

Thrown Racoon

Author's email address. Recollections of, information about Alice welcomed! In particular, I would love to know whjat happend to her Afghan dancers. If you can send images of her work, photos of her, or links to artists whose career began with her teaching, they would be especially welcome.

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