Possession and Revolt by Caitlyn Wilson

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In Memoriam – Doug Jeck

Submitted on February 8, 2022 - 5:10pm

The School of Art + Art History + Design is sad to announce the passing of Associate Professor Doug Jeck on February 7, 2022. He died unexpectedly at age 58 from natural causes. Jeck taught at the University of Washington from 1996 to 2022.

Biography

Doug Jeck was born in New Jersey and grew up in Florida. He spent two years studying trumpet at Tennessee Tech University then began working with clay at the university's Appalachian Center for Craft, graduating with a BFA in 1986. He went on to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1987 and received his MFA in 1989. Jeck taught at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University from 1994–1996. He became a member of our School's ceramics faculty (now part of 3D4M) in September 1996. Jeck was promoted to associate professor in 2000. He was chair of 3D4M from 2011–2018.

Jeck's work was figurative, with the human object at the center. His life-like sculptures were often an amalgamation of clay, hair, concrete, fur, and wood. Jeck's work has been in numerous exhibitions and is included in several public collections including: the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Mint Museum, the Tacoma Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. One of his last works, thou, will be on display at an exhibition titled Body Image, which runs March 15 through 20 in Sacramento during the annual National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conference.

Several organizations supported Jeck's work with grants and residencies over the years. Among them were the Illinois Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the La Napoule Foundation in France, the Virginia A. Groot Foundation, C.R.E.T.A. Roman Countryside Studio in Italy, and the Pilchuck Glass School. He also held the School's Jack and Grace Pruzan Endowed Faculty Fellowship from 2015–2021.

Memorial Events

Saturday, March 5

  • 10am
  • Salvation Army Seattle Temple Corps, 9501 Greenwood Ave N

Saturday, April 9

  • 2pm
  • Ceramic + Metal Arts Building, 4205 Mary Gates Memorial Drive NE
  • A potluck barbeque will follow remarks and a slide show, please bring a dish and/or a beverage.
  • We hope to share via Zoom with those who cannot attend.

Remembrances

Jamie Walker is the School's Director and was also a longstanding colleague in clay with Jeck. Walker said this in an announcement to the School about Jeck's passing:

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share the devastating news that our colleague and friend Doug Jeck has unexpectedly passed away.

Doug was an immensely talented and complex human being who cared deeply about his work, his students, his family, and others in his orbit. The sculptures he created delved into the depths of what it means to be human and spiritual in ways that few other artists have achieved. He had an uncanny facility with clay — or dirt and water as he would often say. As a teacher, Doug had the ability to offer incisive and distinct insights and criticism that resonated with his students in ways that were remarkable. His command of the English language made each of his emails and texts worthy of saving and his knowledge and love of music was profound.

Samantha Scherer (MFA 1997): "Doug changed everything about grad school for me. He was an incredible artist and one of the most interesting, intelligent, and intriguing people I’ve ever had the privilege to know."

Juniper Shuey (BFA 2001): "This hits hard. Doug, so much to appreciate in regards to your influence. You live on within those who you taught to have and follow our passion and always be true to our human experience."

George Rodriguez (MFA 2009):

Doug called my mother’s house phone to let me know I had been accepted into the University of Washington. In about 3 days’ time I was sitting next to him and Akio in the small CMA office talking about the state of clay at UW. It was the first of many conversations I would cherish. Doug and I then drove through Seattle and talked about the people and vibe of the city. He mentioned granola and I did not know what he meant by that. During my two years as a student, I celebrated many events in the company of Doug, holidays, openings, happy hours. It was these times that forged a friendship as we conversed about heartache, identity, faith, history. To say that he shaped my way of thinking would be an understatement. He taught me to look at things with an open but critical lens in the context of time and place. We rarely talked about art but instead leaned into talking about the human condition.

Doug has always been a champion of me and my work. I would always get a little nervous around him because I knew that I had to be fully present and honest. When I left Seattle, just a couple of years ago, he came to the park gathering, brought me a bunch of UW swag, and patted me on the back. It wouldn’t be the last time I saw him, but it meant everything that he would see me off.

Shauna Fahley (BFA 2017): "There’s no one I admire more than Doug Jeck. An immensely talented and gifted artist, he is one of few artists who could encapsulate the complexity of the human form and spirit. His work was something to behold. His intensity about making inspired us all. He always encouraged students to dig deeper and think more critically. Doug could wield the English language just as skillfully as he could clay. The words he chose were deliberate and precious. He changed my life and so many others. When making art, we mature a broader understanding of the world around us. I often heard Doug say to students, "Art reports on the pulse of humanity," as a reminder of how impactful art is on the world. The energy he brought to his work was contagious. His legacy will continue to shape contemporary ceramics, the world, and the pulse of humanity."

Leslie Ferrin, of Ferrin Contemporary in Massachusetts: "The first and every time I saw Doug’s work, I was deeply moved. His sculpture would always stop me in my tracks with visceral, emotional, thought-provoking responses. Awed by his skill, it was the humanity he captured in gesture, surface and expression that stay with me now and will every time I see his work. Sadly, there will be no more."

Coping with Loss

This is a sudden and shocking loss, and the School encourages you to seek assistance as needed. CareLink is available for UW employees, and students may seek counseling support through Hall Health and the 24-hour resources available.

Memorial Gifts

In honor of Doug's legacy in 3D4M, friends and family have established the Doug Jeck Student Support Fund at the University of Washington. Gifts to this fund will help undergraduate and graduate students in 3D4M attend conferences / residencies around the world or participate in special projects. Doug found these experiences to be invaluable and often spoke about how life changing these opportunities were for his students. Gifts may be made online or by phone (877-894-4387).

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