Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pottery Northwest

Last week, I swung by Pottery Northwest to paint a plate for their annual fundraiser, "Salad Bowl".  Wally Bivins, Executive Director, is full of passion to make PNW's programs even better.  I asked him about the mission and direction of this great organization.

Plate painted by Kinu Watanabe (who makes it look so effortless).

"Our stated mission is simply "to promote and develop excellence in the ceramic arts". We take our obligation as a non-profit arts organization pretty seriously. Since its inception education has always had a central role in the studio environment. We offer community classes to that end, but---we also sponsor workshops and master classes with recognized figures in the field as well as up and coming talent. These are meant to attract a regional or even national audience. They do! That too has been a long standing program.  The resident artist program, as we spoke of the other evening, is relatively young. The resident artists apply for a limited number of spaces and their residency is generally from  six months to two years."

Probably won't be surprised to hear this class is taught by Tip Toland.  Wow.

"My own history has included residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation on two occasions. It had a powerful and positive impact on my life. With that experience I was quite sure a residency program and its finite stay was a good way to introduce new energy into the studio and keep a dynamic atmosphere. An atmosphere in flux as a ceramist might say. The program has had the benefit of gifted artists in the early stages of a career who are also willing and even eager to interact with our student population.  It has also had some "old timers" just as willing to share. That we offer a stimulating environment, one without walls, was really something that revealed itself to us, not something we just set out to do. That is not to say there is no privacy, people are quite respectful of one another's creative time. The development of excellence is at many levels, from a novice moving forward to a recent MFA graduate tackling a new body of work."

By current resident, Erin Campbell.

"Our fellowship program, the Jean Griffith Fellowship, has brought a number of nationally recognized artist to participate in the community. I do not know of many, (any?) organizations of our size that endeavor to give funding away to serve the field in this way. It is a tribute to Jean and again, the mission. Beth Cavener Stichter, Josh DeWeese, Richard Notkin, and Tip Toland are the recipients to date. There is serious talk of expanding this program as well as enhancing the resident artists program."

If you get a chance, take a tour of the facility -- the artists and the talent will blow you away!  If you like yummy food and beautiful salads bowls, put Thursday, July 16th on your calendar.

It's a great event for a super organization. 

1 comment:

Neal Sofian said...

Great comments. I have been a student at Pottery Northwest for 27 years. The quality of work, the teaching, workshops, the facility and professionalism are outstanding; comparable to the best programs anywhere in the United States. It is a hidden gem at the Seattle Center.