Lately, Bill Suwaroff has been dreaming about duck tables. He has had this thing about ducks for the past 12 years, during which he has made somewhere between three and four hundred ceramic pieces featuring ducks.
"I don't even see them as ducks anymore," he says. "To me, a wing is a handle, and duck heads look just right for the legs of a pot."
The assistant professor at the Corcoran School of Art has made duck bowls, duck platters, duck door handles and just plain duck ducks. His bouquets of ducks will be exhibited in a show titled "Blooming Ducks," opening Wednesday at the Fendrick Gallery.
His visual puns pop up in such pieces as "Quacker Jacks," "Quacker Oats," "Cold Duck" and "Pressed Duck" -- the last some poor flattened ducks emerging from the rollers of a ceramic printing press.
Why the ducks, Bill?
"I had a psychologist tell me once that they were all victims, which they are," he offers, but says he has no special message in mind.
"They're meant to be fun, they're meant to be outrageous, but there's also a strong sense of design there that most people don't see."
Though he won't fill requests, he has thought up some memorable personalized ducks for friends, including a few duck bongs ("in my more Bohemian days") and duck toothbrush holders for his family.
Suwaroff thinks he may always return to ducks. "I keep finding different things to do with them," he says. "Sometimes I say, jeez, why am I still doing these ducks? But it's interesting to stay with one image for a long time and keep taking it in different directions."
Lest you think Suwaroff is -- forgive us -- ducking his responsibility to art, he'd like to point out that he has experimented with other themes. His piece titled "My Flea Has Dogs" is a large ceramic flea covered with tiny porcelain dogs, and not long ago he filled a gallery with nude ceramic ostriches. On another occasion he hung a show of 18-inch-long fantasy insects attached to boards with foot-long stickpins.
Well, to tell the truth, some of the insects did have duck heads.