Born in Texas in 1875, Harriet Joor arrived in New Orleans at a young age when her father became a physician and botanist at Tulane University. Joor's mother made sure that all her daughters partook of the education (and tuition waivers for the families of professors) offered to young women at Newcomb High School and College.

Their daughter Harriet proved to be versatile as well as talented while a student at Newcomb College. Her studies centered around both the "scientific" course -- the study of languages, literature, history and the sciences -- and the art curriculum. She graduated in 1895, one of nine members of the first class to work extensively with pottery and china painting alongside teacher Mary Given Sheerer. The vase at the bottom right is an example of red glazed Newcomb Pottery that Joor completed after her graduation (ca. 1903). The piece is incised with a plantain design (Potter Joseph Meyer).

Always an enthusiastic person, Joor described her co-workers as a "little band of stout-hearted students who worked shoulder to shoulder with Miss Sheerer in the low, gaunt, barn-like room which was at once kiln room and studio, turning room and sales place." She remembered the tubs of clay that had been brought from the Bayou Boguefalaya and the many lessons about the "vagaries of the kiln" and the "mysterious interrelation of pastes and glazes."

This learning served her well. In 1900, she traveled to the Dow Summer School at Ipswich, Massachusetts--and in this journey, she was one of the first Newcomb students to leave the South. During that same year, her work earned a bronze medal at an international exhibit in Paris. She also sent a cracker jar with tansy motif, a vase with holly design, and a large vase with magnolia motif to the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in 1904. She won the Neill medal for proficiency in watercolor painting in 1904.

Shortly thereafter, she moved to Chicago where she taught at the University of Chicago and directed the work of an art pottery. Then she homesteaded in South Dakota, writing a number of articles on her experiences in a mud cabin. She returned to the South to teach at various schools in Louisiana and Mississippi, including All Saint's School in Vicksburg. In the late twenties through the 1950s, she taught at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette.

Click here to see more examples of Harriet Joor's work

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