Stillwater artist Marjorie Wade believes pottery uniquely connects people with nature and the environment.
“This is just something from nature,” she said. “We can’t get much more grounded in our lives than working with the clay.”
In her mind there’s also something spiritual about pottery.
“Spirit surrounds us,” she said. “Its elements — earth, water, fire and air — work together in harmony. As these elements combine and affect each pot individually, no two are alike.”
Wade, who runs “spiritworks pottery” out of her home in Stillwater, has a chance to display her unique designs in a new exhibit opening at ArtReach St. Croix Thursday, April 3. The exhibit, called “Pots & Prints,” focuses on aspects of life and environment and will also include prints from CathyJean Clarke and photography by Mitchell Spencer.
“I feel it’s going to be a wonderful show,” Wade said. “It has this subtle, very nuanced, organic quality to it.”
Wade describes her pots as “very casual.”
“They have an organic sense to them,” she said. “They are not highly decorated, although textural elements are very important.”
Her style has been heavily influenced by pottery from ancient Japan, as well as from Korea and West Africa.
“There’s not pretense to this pottery, and for me personally, I feel … a lot is going into the making of these pots after they’ve left my hands. It’s the combination of the earth, water, the fire and the air that are creating these pots.”
Wade views her work as mostly utilitarian, rather than purely decorative.
“I want people to use it,” she said. “They can enjoy and … admire it on a wall, but I’m happiest when people are using my pots.”
She loves to use pottery in everyday life as well.
Wade remembers being introduced to pottery in elementary school.
“When I was very young, I went to a school that had a full art program, full theater program, the works,” she said. “So I was first working with clay when I was 8 years old, and that’s when I remember falling in love with it.”
Wade’s first pottery class as an adult was through The Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wis. Her pottery career really kicked off when her youngest daughter, who is now preparing to graduate from college, started elementary school full time. Now Wade has studied at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, spent three years studying pottery at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, has worked with private potters and more.
Making pottery has become a passion, not simply a hobby for Wade.
“A passion is always there, and it’s part of you,” she said. “If I’m away from my clay too long, I really miss it dearly.”
The Pots & Prints exhibit runs Thursday, April 3 through Saturday, May 10. An opening reception is 6-8 p.m. April 3. The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. ArtReach is at 224 N. Fourth St., Stillwater.
Contact Jonathan Young at [email protected]