Lanie Cecula

Photo of Lanie Cecula


Lanie Cecula (1951 - 2013)

Born in Pittsburgh in 1951, Lanie Cecula attended Chamberlayne College and studied interior design. It was during a backpacking trip to Israel in 1971 that she met the esteemed Polish born ceramic artist, Marek Cecula, with whom she began an apprenticeship. As her skills developed so did their love affair, marking the beginning of a longstanding personal and professional partnership.

After an artist residency in Brazil, the couple moved back to the United States and settled in an old tenement building on Sullivan Street in New York City in 1976. They eventually acquired a storefront space in SoHo, which became the home of their pioneer venue, Contemporary Porcelain Gallery. ''Our forte is clay, our work has always been on the cutting edge and it never fit into the typical American craft galleries,'' Mrs. Cecula said. ''That was how we ended up creating our own environment for our work.'' Producing a range of espresso and teacups, saucers, platters and dinnerware, the Cecula’s work never strived for practicality. Marek was especially known for building bulky teapots that when filled with water would be too heavy for anyone to pour. It was this innovation that put Lanie and Marek at the forefront of modern ceramic design, and lauded by the NY Times as "leaders in modern ceramic design." The gallery quickly became a landmark of the neighborhood, showcasing Lanie and Marek’s work as well as emerging American and international artists. In addition to her own artwork, Lanie created an Artist-in-Residence program as one of her initiatives to foster a global community, bringing visual artists from near and far to the gallery and downtown SoHo arts community. Marek went on to become the head of the ceramics department at Parsons School of Design. Although Contemporary Porcelain closed in the early 90s, Lanie continued to make ceramics and watercolors out of her home studio. She stressed the importance of using slip casting, a process that utilizes molds rather than a potter’s wheel, producing “a greater variety of forms and effects than with hand building and throwing”. Lanie’s porcelain work included children’s fantasy world objects, vases, bowls, funeral urns and vessels. In January 2012, Lanie Cecula was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her contributions to the art world and history of American ceramics in particular, will be remembered for a long time to come.