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Richard Fairbanks


circa 1950's

4.5 x 3.25 x 3.25 in.
Gift of Richard A. Harrison

In Richard Fairbanks, American Potter (1993), Mathew Kangas wrote, “More than any other American-born potter of this half-century, Fairbanks held to a rural-pastoral ideal for pottery.” Fairbanks’s education and training in the United States and Finland put him in contact with traditions that nourished respect for the well-built, handcrafted useful object seen in Bottle. Inspired by his experiences in Finland and his research in Eastern Europe in 1986, Fairbanks started making wheel-thrown, vessel-based work from coarse stoneware clay, allowing rough and crusty clay bodies to emerge from the glaze.

Fairbanks earned a BA in 1953 at the University of Washington under Paul Bonifas, who had a huge impact on his work. Following Bonifas’s practice, he sketched pottery profiles and forms as a means of “thinking on paper.” In 1955 he earned an MA at Mills College under Antonio Prieto. A Fulbright scholarship enabled him to study at the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki, Finland, in 1959–60. He taught at Mills College from 1954 to 1955, Drake University from 1956 to 1959 and 1960–63, and at Central Washington University from 1963 to 1989. Fairbanks was a member of the American Craft Council and an associate member of the British Craftsmen Potters Association (now Craft Potters Association).

Billie Sessions, PhD

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