I was born in 1943 in Indianapolis IN, where, disillusioned after Princeton, my father had bought a farm outside the city with two farm houses so could be taught farming by a tenant farmer.
Right after the attack Pearl Harbor he enlisted, and moved us back into town to live with my maternal grandmother while he was at OTC and on maneuvers. After being commissioned, because of his experience in the Princeton eating clubs during Depression and his resulting concern about race relations in US, he insisted on being assigned to 92nd Division (a division with white officers, black soldiers).
Right after my birth his division was sent to Italy. They fought fiercely in the Alpi Apuane, just inland from the Tyrrhenian coast near Pisa and Forte dei Marmi. After VE day the army lacked enough troop ships to ferry troops to the Pacific, so my father, along with other soldiers was taken to Florence and where they were encouraged to volunteer to teach GI's. My father, who had never been abroad before the War, taught calculus each morning and explored Florence each afternoon. He fell in love with its every aspect of the city, went back to Indianapolis at War's end, sold the farm, and moved us to the University of Chicago so he could get a doctorate in Italian Art History. Next we moved to the beautiful country outside of Florence, where he and my mother, who was no stranger to Europe from pre-war days, led an idyllic life.
This long account I hope explains how Italian culture plus living in the country have provided inspiration for the kind of ceramics I make.
After some years we returned to the US, I went off to Harvard, did reasonably well, and graduated in Geology after spending two years as a Fine Arts major. However I felt certain I wanted to avoid spending the rest of my life at a desk. There followed working for geologists, then teaching grade school, and marriage to my academic husband. The next year we moved to Princeton NJ, where I worked in a nursery school, then in the geochemistry lab at Princeton. We then had children, after which I spent a number of years in full time child rearing.
Meanwhile I was exploring what I wanted to do after full time mothering, and I settled on ceramics which I had loved ever since my days of eating off of Italian maiolica. I started with a class one morning a week in the University Pottery, run by Toshiko Takaezu, but soon graduated to classes at Greenwich House Pottery and the 92nd Street YMCA in NYC. First I worked with Mikhail Zakin, then Marge Israel, and then, after a year at the College for Further Ed in Oxford, UK, we came back to the US. Soon we moved to Cambridge, where I was fortunate to take classes at the Radcliffe Pottery, with Makoto Yabe and Warren Mather. Warren and his wife, Nancy Selvage who headed the pottery, encouraged me to apply to graduate schools in Ceramics. Eventually I was admitted to the MFA program at RISD, and spent 3 nights a week in Providence for two years. On returning to Cambridge I worked at what became the Harvard Ceramics Studio in Allston, taught there for twenty years but continued to have a private space for another eight years. Meanwhile we had finally bought land in Chilmark, on Martha's Vineyard. I made thousands of slip cast tiles for the house we had built and eventually a studio where I was able put up the kiln I had first built in 1977 in Princeton, then moved to our garage in Cambridge.
I fired that kiln as a reduction kiln for a number of years, then adapted it for soda firing, until my arthritis made it impossible to continue that. The kiln was dismantled and re-purposed as a wood fired pizza oven by someone else. Now I struggle with the digital aspects of a wonderful new Bailey Reduction kiln. I don't get to fire it often, since now we spend all winter in Cambridge where our two grandchildren live, but I really hope to manage another ten years before death or arthritis - or now COVID-19 - overcome me.
I feel very lucky and just love making pots.