Clay artists in the far western counties of North Carolina will meet on Monday, Feb. 28, at 6:30 p.m. at the Swain County campus of Southwestern Community College to create a clay guild. The guild will be a nonprofit organization aimed at marketing the clay artists in the area as well as providing a means of networking and idea exchange.
Many talented clay artists reside in the far western, seven-county area of Swain, Jackson, Macon, Clay, Cherokee, Graham and Haywood counties, including both those who focus on functional work and as well as pure art. It is the intent of this group of artists (both functional and pure art) to market the region as a clay art destination to collectors and clay art aficionados.
With five outstanding facilities teaching the clay arts, as an educational center for clay art, the region cannot be surpassed.
Southwestern Community College has an intensive continuing education program with its Master Potter’s program targeted at those seeking the knowledge rather than the degree. SCC’s program offers outstanding facilities, instructors, and an array of on-line business courses.
Haywood Community College has garnered a national reputation for its two-year ceramic program which generally has a waiting list for admittance.
The John C. Campbell Folk Art School offers clay art course work, targeting the vacationing artist, for nearly a century. They are able to utilize both local clay artists and those from across the country.
Western Carolina University has recently added an advanced degree in ceramics to accompany its undergraduate degree.
The Bascom opened recently in Highlands and also provides workshops in the clay arts.
“Because of the fine educational opportunities available in the region it is only natural that there would be a plethora of fine clay artists. At a testing-the-waters meeting in December, we were delighted to see a lot of interest in creating a clay arts guild,” said Hank Shuler, one of the guild organizers. “This is a follow-up to that meeting to put legs on the guild and have it up and running as a marketing entity by this summer. Among other things, our intent is to create drive-about studio tours by this fall, bringing the clay art aficionado to the artist’s door.”
According to Elise Delfield, another organizer, “We see this as a new, regional economic development endeavor. We can tie our artists together to support one another and the region. In addition, we can bring a new focus to those educational institutions that have enriched our region with artists.”