Friday, August 29, 2014

RIP Gerry Williams!

From The NCECA page:


Photo: Gerry and Julie Williams,
2001 NCECA Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina
Photo by Glen Blakely
Gerry made a difference. His insight and influence will be felt for generations to come. Those who never knew the man will surely know his legacy… those who did, will remember his knowing, soft chuckle, and quiet determination.
~John Neely via Facebook
Gerry Williams, founding editor of The Studio Potter magazine passed away Monday, August 25, 2014 in New Hampshire. Anyone fortunate enough to have hosted a visit with Gerry and his wife Julie Williams became a link to a community that embraced and connected potters throughout regions, across a nation and to other countries. Their work made ours more meditative, meaningful and memorable. Inevitable maker, sensitive listener and illuminating storyteller, Gerry inspired clay-covered legions through his work as a studio potter, writer, editor and ambassador for mindfulness and materiality.
Born in 1926, Williams spent his childhood in India with his parents who ran a missionary school in Bengal. Williams recalled in an interview with Colby Sawyer College that Gandhi had learned about a septic system his father had developed for the school and asked that he build one for his own home. Although he never had the opportunity to meet the great man, Gandhi’s thinking about the importance of handicraft, growing things, and making things for use by other people made an indelible impression on his outlook. “[Gandhi] also influenced me in my ethics and moral life. I became a pacifist and spent time in jail as a conscientious objector. He allowed me to say 'what am I going to do with my life that will be ethical and politically responsible?' Being a potter is what I came to believe the answer to that question was.”
Williams returned to the United States to study at Cornell College in Iowa. He was called up to the military and left college for several years in alternative war service. In the late 1940s, while living in a cabin he had built on Vinal Haven Island, off the coast of Maine, Williams became involved in pottery for the first time, inspired after reading a passage by Arthur Morgan about the meaning of making pots.
After learning through a friend about the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, Williams moved to Concord in 1949 to study and subsequently became one of a small number of potters of the era able to support himself through his work. He met his wife Julie, a radio personality in New Hampshire, when she interviewed him for her station. They purchased a property and in 1953, built a home and studio in rural Dunbarton.
In 1972, Williams founded The Studio Potter magazine without any prior experience in publishing. He said, “During the years I was editor I attempted to travel everywhere in the country to interview people…active studio people rather than designers or gallery owners exclusively or in the college environment… Everyone had a special story to tell. I especially liked to find someone who had given up something to become a potter.”

Past NCECA President and 2015 On-Site Conference Liaison, Jay Lacouture writes, “I first met Gerry Williams in the autumn of 1976 when he showed up at Rhode Island College to deliver some pots for an exhibition. I helped him carry his work into the gallery. This chance meeting turned into a quick beer, a good conversation and an invitation to join him the next summer to build the first Phoenix Woodfire Kiln. I was a 26 year-old idealistic ceramics major, immediately impressed with Gerry's warmth and generous spirit. By the end of our conversation, he had me believing ceramics could save the world. My path had been cleared by Gerry.”

Above: Pottery by Gerry Williams, photo by Alicia Bergeron

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