Betty Woodman

The ceramics and broader art world lost one of the greats on January 2nd :  Betty Woodman, an inspiration to countless ceramic artists and a two-time NEA Fellow.

In 1999 Northern Clay Center had the pleasure of naming Ms. Woodman a Regis Master Artist, honoring her for her contributions to the development of 20th and 21st Century ceramics.

As preparation for her participation in the Regis program, Ms. Woodman, like those Masters who came before her, was asked a series of questions, the answers to which formed the transcripts of her talk at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and, later, were included in ClayTalks, a book published by NCC.

Ms. Woodman was asked to share her early influences, to discuss her shifting identities in clay, family collaborations, and the process of creating. Her responses were wise, candid, and inspiring to read even so many years later. There was one question Ms. Woodman, in fact, deflected which seems fitting to share today. The question raised was “what artistic movements, individuals, social events do you believe you have had an effect on?” Her response, “I feel this is a question that might possibly be raised someday. But it will have to be answered by historians and critics. I certainly wouldn’t think of addressing it.” Today, and each day after, the ceramics and arts community will share its own answers to this question for she influenced so many makers, shared so much stunning work with the world, and raised the bar for what one would define as a rigorous studio practice.

In the same publication, Clay Talks, Ms. Woodman goes on to share that “teaching for me was a way to share my enjoyment of making pots and to try to teach people how to see…We all remember things our teachers said to us. Let’s hope my students remember more than ‘Keep your elbows down when you’re centering the clay.’”

Trust us, Ms. Woodman, we’ll remember you for so much more.

Read Ms. Woodman’s full interview in ClayTalks below.

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