BY OLIVIA DORFMAN
A show of pottery—both functional and sculptural—will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Local Clay Potters’ Guild of Bloomington. The show will run July 29 through August 19 in the Miller Gallery at the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center, 122 S. Walnut. An opening reception will be held Friday, August 4, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.
The guild’s founders first met in 1994 when they were recruited to contribute hand-made bowls for the first Bloomington Soup Bowl Benefit, a fundraiser for Hoosier Hills Food Bank. Barb Bihler, a potter who owned a fine art pottery store called The Gallery, connected with potters Susan Snyder, Tena Wenta, and Karen Green Stone. After the Soup Bowl Benefit, Bihler suggested organizing a joint exhibit.
“In 1996 we put in an application for a show at The Waldron,” says Stone, who is the guild president. “Barb was curator. We had 28 potters. We took pictures of them and wrote a biography of each potter.” The 1997 show, called “Local Clay,” was a hit. “The gallery director, Suzanne Halvorson, said it was the most successful show they’d ever had,” Stone recalls.
“After that, we decided to form a potters’ guild,” she says. A transplant from Denver, Stone had been a member of the Colorado Potters Guild, which served as the model for the local group. Bihler was unable to help when she became ill; she died of cancer in 1999. Snyder, Wenta, and Stone went on to establish the guild, and invited others who had exhibited at the first Waldron show to join them.
The 24-member guild provides workshops and mutual support, and holds an annual holiday show and sale. This year’s show will be held November 3 and 4 at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center. “It’s more than just a gathering to sell things,” Stone says. “It’s friendship. We order together. We’re resources for each other. We have a community.”
For more information, visit localclay.net.