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Kenneth Ferguson (aka Ken Ferguson)


circa 1968

14.5 x 9.25 x 9.5 in.
Gift of Larry and Yoko Elsner

Ken Ferguson was known for wheel-thrown and slab-built pots. His early work, like Bottle, is pure high-fire functional stoneware—encapsulating a traditional folk form, with lid and handles—though larger than usual and extremely well made. He gradually shifted to a more expressive style that referenced functional ware, and then, in the 1980s, added animal forms as handles—frequently hares, which sometimes became the entire piece. Most of Ferguson’s work is high-fired stoneware, although he used a range of materials and techniques including porcelain, low-temperature firing, thrown, handbuilt, and cast ware. Occasionally he used salt or raku firing. Much of his work draws inspiration from European, Asian, and American folklore and mythology.

Although he sometimes referred to himself as “a humble country potter,” Ken Ferguson has been honored as much for his teaching as for his vessels. In 1981 he was voted one of the twelve greatest living potters in a readers’ survey by Ceramics Monthly magazine. He studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago and the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, where he received his BFA in painting. In 1958 he earned his MFA in ceramics from Alfred University, New York. Ferguson taught at various institutions, including the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana, and Alfred University. Beginning in 1964, he headed the ceramics department at the Kansas City Art Institute, until retiring as professor emeritus in 1996. During his career he taught a remarkable succession of students who have themselves become notable artists and teachers. In addition to his work as an educator, Ferguson had an active exhibition career.

Billie Sessions, PhD

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