Honoring the legacy of Marcia Manhart

Distinguished Alumni and dedicated University of Tulsa supporter, Marcia Manhart passed away this March. Manhart was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas where she received a scholastic art award in high school. This award earned her a scholarship at TU where she completed her undergraduate and master’s degrees in ceramics and also met her future husband, Tom Manhart, who taught ceramics at TU for many years. 

Manhart was an ardent supporter of the College of Arts and Sciences for many yearsA few of her close friends remember her legacy at TU.

Marcia Manhart at Eloquent Craftsman exhibit
From left to right: Jessica Borusky, Artistic Director of Living Arts of Tulsa; Emily Manhart Dirickson; Marcia Manhart; Mandy Manhart Sanderson; and M. Teresa Valero, Director of School of Art, Design and Art History

A fortuitous encounter – Ann and Chuck Tomlins 

I first met Marcia Manhart – then Yockey – on The University of Tulsa campus in 1963. Marcia was already making a name for herself, as her unique ceramic wares were referred to as “Yockey Pots.” She was energetic and embraced the medium of clay for its potential of personal expression 

I did not see her again, until 1966, when I returned to teach sculpture at TU. Marcia was finishing up her masters in ceramics and by 1968 was busy teaching clay in the educational program at the Philbrook Museum of Art. By 1972 she had taken on the job of museum educational director and was instrumental in promoting extraordinary art education throughout Tulsa 

The energy from Marcia and her interest in art’s importance were highly celebrated by the local arts community, my wife and myself included. My active interest in the area of performance art installations was encouraged and promoted by Marcia. Her encouragement allowed me to continue in that genre of artistic expression and I will always be grateful. 

Ann Tomlins 

I met Marcia when she was director of Philbrook. We visited back and forth to each others’ homes to celebrate holidays and personal social events throughout the years. Marcia was also a talented cook. I remember one holiday season she dropped off an exquisite ginger pot that she had thrown on the potter’s wheel. It was filled with delicious chutney that she had cooked. I still have the vessel on display in my home. 

Ceramics class - Wheel

Remembering Manhart – Jenk Jones 

Marcia and Tom gave my late wife Jerri Jones a direction in life as pleasing as it was unexpected. As a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, Jerri majored in sociology and late in her time there took a ceramics class that she enjoyed immensely. 

When we moved to Tulsa at the end of 1963, Jerri took a couple of ceramics courses taught by Marcia at Philbrook. She was hooked. She then took art courses at TU, including ceramics from Tom. One day he told her she was eligible to work toward a master’s degree, which she ultimately obtained.  

When the Manhart’s organized “The Eloquent Object,” a traveling exhibition of functional pieces done in highly artistic styles, they hired Jerri as their researcher. Jerri’s long passion for ceramics was lit and fanned to flame by Marcia. Other than her family, Marcia was probably one of the people with the greatest impact on giving her life purpose.