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My work explores the vessel form on a human scale, taking simple, historical pottery forms and jumping them up in scale as a vehicle for abstraction. By increasing pottery form to the scale of the human body, I’m altering the expected dialogue between the object and user from that of the hand to one of the body. This ”body” scale speaks on a subliminal level to the entire histories of our experience. By using forms and glazes that evoke generosity, sensuality, fullness and humility, I am asking the viewer to make connections on a deeply personal level. This is what I depend on: the desire in all of us to reach out and touch, and by doing so, to trigger memory that is both felt and connected, memory that quietly waits to come to consciousness. This innate connection is for me the primal language of ceramic vessel form. It has the potential to reflect our universal human story, regardless of politics, culture or history.
Born in 1952 in Chicago, Illinois, I grew up in Los Angeles, California, where I was surrounded by ceramics from an early age. My family were part owners of several commercial whiteware ceramic manufacturing companies. Spending my childhood around ceramic factories, it was an obvious choice for me to go into the family business.
After taking a pottery class at a local clay studio in Venice Beach while in high school, I went to the University of California, Irvine in 1970, where I studied biology and sociology. Because of my interest in clay, I also took an introductory studio ceramic course with John Mason. After a semester of college, I took a summer job at one of my father’s factories, located in Pasadena, California. I decided that I wanted to continue working in the family business, so in the fall of 1970, when I was 18 years old, I quit school and became the factory foreman and manager at Wildwood Ceramics, which I ran until 1972. Two years of running a small commercial ceramics factory was an apprenticeship that has since proved invaluable in my career.
During my time at Wildwood, I was still making wheel thrown pottery. Having decided that the studio side of ceramics was of greater interest to me, I left the factory in 1972 to attend the Kansas City Art Institute, from which I received my BFA in ceramics in 1975. I then went on to graduate school at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, where I received my MFA in 1977.
I established my first clay studio in 1977 in Guilford, Connecticut, with my sister-in-law Jane Gustin. We both shared the studio together for five years, where we each produced functional and sculptural pottery. During this time, I was invited to teach at Parson’s School of Design in New York, where I was an instructor in the Crafts Department from 1978 to 1980. In 1980, I began teaching at the Program in Artisanry at Boston University, where I was Assistant Professor of Ceramics. In 1985, the Program in Artisanry moved to the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where I became Associate Professor of Ceramics and head of the ceramics program. Swain School subsequently merged in 1988 with Southeastern Massachusetts University, now the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
I was Associate Professor of Ceramics and the senior faculty of the ceramics program during my ten year tenure at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. After twenty years of teaching and working with hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, I retired from academia in the summer of 1999 to devote my full time and energies to my studio work and my tile production company.