Anoka-Ramsey hosts Minnesota Potters

Anoka-Ramsey Community College hosted the first of several events in the “Minnesota Potters: Sharing the Fire” project, a state arts grant-funded effort to document how ceramic arts are passed from artist to artist to keep this vibrant tradition and community flourishing, Nov. 16 at the Coon Rapids Campus.

A full house greeted American potter Warren MacKenzie (right) and Guillermo Cuellar, Nov. 16 at the ARCC Coon Rapids Campus in the first of several events in the “Minnesota Potters: Sharing the Fire” project.

The inaugural event featured a workshop with American potter Warren MacKenzie and Guillermo Cuellar, Nov. 16. MacKenzie, a faculty member at the University of Minnesota since 1954, retired in 1990 to become a Professor Emeritus and maintains a studio near Stillwater. For more than 60 years, he has made “everyday pots,” drawn on Japanese and Korean folk pottery traditions and used as functional pieces of pottery.

Cuellar, born in Venezuela in 1951, studied ceramics at Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa and worked alongside MacKenzie from 1984 to 2006. Cuellar’s work has been displayed in the Venezuelan National Art Gallery, The Smithsonian Institution, Northern Clay Center in Minnesota and other museums and galleries around the world.

The Fire continues

More Minnesota Potters: Sharing the Fire events are scheduled for 2012:

• Workshop with Linda Christianson and Jil Franke, Feb, 26, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Exhibition: March 9 – April 29, Northern Clay Center

• Exhibition Opening: March 9, 6 to 8 p.m., Northern Clay Center

• Documentary Screening with Janet Koplos Lecture: March 10, 1 to 3 p.m., Anoka-Ramsey Community College Performing Arts Center

• Gallery Talk I with Warren MacKenzie and Guillermo Cuellar: Thursday, March 15, 6 to 7 p.m.

• Gallery Talk II with Linda Christianson and Jil Franke: Thursday, March 22, 6 to 7 p.m.

• Gallery Talk III with Bob Briscoe and Jason Trebs: Thursday, March 29, 6 to 7 p.m.

• Gallery Talk IV with Richard Bresnahan and Steven Lemke, Tuesday, April 3, 6 to 7 p.m.

All events provide a view into the lives and work of eight Minnesota potters, four pairs of artists whose unique relationships celebrate some of the many ways that knowledge, experience and spirit is passed from artist to artist.

Spearheaded by Mark Lambert of Anoka-Ramsey Community College, the Sharing the Fire documentary tracks the amazing sphere of these potters’ stories with each other, revealing the challenge of becoming and subsisting as a practicing potter, detailing many intriguing processes and, with the clear voice of art critic and cultural specialist Janet Koplas, offering insight into the bigger Minnesota potters’ narrative.

Through Lambert’s efforts, ARCC was a fiscal year 2011 recipient of a Folk and Traditional Arts grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.  This activity was funded, in part, by the arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the Legacy Amendment vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.


“The project documents the work of representative Minnesota ceramic artists, their methods of working with clay, and the way they pass on their skills,” said Lambert. “The project’s goal is to develop an understanding of the Minnesota ceramics community to share with the public, cultivating broader participation in and enjoyment of the ceramic arts.”

For more information about Minnesota Potters: Sharing the Fire, visit