New Mexico Art Tells its History

Flame Gas Can

Flame Gas Can, 1982
Rick Dillingham (1952–1994)
Rreassembled, kiln fired with slips, glazes, and metallic leaf
Bequest of the Estate of Rick Dillingham, 1994

Rick Dillingham integrated art, scholarship, popular culture, and Native American sources into an aesthetic whole. Dillingham is remembered for making non-functional sculptures about functional ceramic objects. He developed his personal style when he began breaking, repainting, refiring, and reconstructing his vessels. Dillingham’s works were not whole until they were first broken and were not finished until they were reconstructed.

In the spring of 1972, Dillingham began making ceramic gas cans as a comment on the centrality of gasoline to modern life. Patterned after Pueblo ceramic water jars that were essential to Pueblo life for a thousand years, Dillingham began making gas cans more than a year before the Mideast oil embargo in 1973.  His artwork is a commentary on our culture’s dependence on gasoline.

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