Marguerite Wildenhain: Inspirational and Passionate About Her Craft

Elaine Levin

Fifth Annual Dorothy Wilson Perkins Lecture Schein International Museum of Ceramic Art at Alfred University

October 08, 2002

Elaine Levin is the author of The History of American Ceramics published by Harry Abrams, New York. She has written numerous essays for books and over eighty articles for American and international art publications. Ms. Levin has also taught several ceramic courses and lectured at universities, art schools, and museums around the country and in Norway, Finland, and Canada, as well as curated seven exhibitions, served as a juror, and participated in numerous symposia.

During a sixty-year career as a ceramist, Marguerite Wildenhain experienced the trauma of a depression in Europe and then the alarming political upheavals leading to World War II. Coming to America in 1940, she faced further tests of endurance and persistence, of survival as a ceramist. Her education during the late 1920s as a potter at the Bauhaus, the German school of arts and crafts, confirmed her determination to live a life devoted to her art.

Over three decades, Wildenhain was an advocate for ceramics as a fine art. She stamped her philosophy and her strong personality on those American potters she met through workshops she led at colleges and universities across the country and for selected students who came to her summer program at Pond Farm in Northern California. The beauty of well-crafted functional ware and the importance of living totally as a craftsperson influenced a generation of ceramists. On her own terms, in a new country, Wildenhain gracefully assimilated the American milieu.

A special exhibition entitled "Ripples: Maguerite Wildenhain and Her Pond Farm Students", showing October 3, 2002, is being held in conjunction with the Fifth Annual Dorothy Perkins Lecture.