The Dorothy Wilson Perkins Ceramic History Lecture Series
The Alfred Ceramic Art Museum established the Dorothy Wilson Perkins Ceramic History Lecture Series in 1998, thanks to a generous endowment gift to the Museum by Dr. Lyle Perkins (BFA Alfred '39; MFA Alfred '47) in memory of his wife, Dr. Dorothy Wilson Perkins (BFA Alfred '39).
Born on September 20, 1917 in Hammond, Indiana, Dorothy's family eventually settled in Wellsville, New York where she graduated from high school with honors in 1935. The following year she enrolled in Alfred University taking courses at the New York State College of Ceramics, where she completed her B.F.A. degree (again with honors) in 1939. Offered a scholarship at the Ohio State University, Dorothy took graduate courses with Arthur E. Baggs, who had been a former student of Charles Fergus Binns at Alfred. She received her M.A. degree from O.S.U. in 1940. Returning to Wellsville, Dorothy married her Alfred classmate Lyle Perkins in the University's campus chapel. They moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania where her husband was teaching. After a period of Navy duty for Lyle and teaching for Dorothy, Lyle completed his M.F.A. at Alfred in 1947. They next moved to Providence, Rhode Island. During the 15 years that Dorothy taught at the Rhode Island School of Design she made the majority of her creative pottery. At this same time she also wrote numerous articles for Ceramic Age and Ceramics Monthly; produced pottery for exhibition here and abroad; taught two consecutive summers for Charles Harder at Alfred; and traveled extensively. In 1951 both Lyle and Dorothy started programs at O.S.U. leading to doctorates in 1956. When Lyle and Dorothy began their lengthy commitment to the programs at the University of Massachusetts in 1962, Dorothy was barred from taking a faculty position due to nepotism rules in place at the time. Nonetheless her many accomplishments in life included exerting a strong influence in the ceramic world which lasts to this day. Her ceramic work can be found in numerous collections, including those at O. S. U. and the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum.
Dorothy was the first slide librarian at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (1971) and upon her retirement in 1981, that facility was named in her honor. Dorothy Wilson Perkins died of lung cancer on August 17, 1996. Her memory will live on through those who knew her, her splendid ceramic pieces, and through this Dorothy Wilson Perkins Ceramic History Lecture which will be held each fall. Lyle Perkins died June 20, 2005.