steven-showalterMany potters recount a story about how they instantly fell in love with clay, but that isn’t my story.

I was 19 when I first sat down at the potter’s wheel. As an art education student, I was devoted to understanding art history and the many existing artistic mediums, styles and techniques, in the interest of becoming an effective art teacher. At the time, I was wrapped up in painting and furniture building, and over the next several years, I spent time designing and constructing furniture, and showing work as a relief sculptor.

I graduated from Luther College in 2001, earning a BA in Art, with an Education Certificate. I was fortunate to be hired as an art teacher straight out of college at 22 years old, where I was assigned the task of building the high school pottery program virtually from the ground up.

The reality is that my college experiences barely prepared me to become a pottery teacher, let alone a professional potter. Unwittingly, many novice potters believe that experience solely revolves around the wheel, so to speak. A professional knows that you need to understand how to fire kilns properly, mix glazes, prepare clay, utilize various glazing techniques, and the list goes on. In my interest to build the pottery program, I read every book I could about pottery, talked to every potter I could find and worked as hard as I could to learn as much as I could about all aspects of pottery. These experiences, not my formal training, taught me what it is to be a potter.

In 2008, ten years after my first time on the wheel, I packed up all my experiences as a painter (color theory), and my thoughts on sculpture and furniture design (form), and poured them into becoming a professional potter, not just a pottery teacher. Ultimately, I subscribe to the notion that to become great at something takes intense dedication and energy. Now, I feel content doing what it seems I was meant to do all along.

In 2008, I also got married and have found enormous support and happiness with my wife, Michelle. When I’m not making pots and asking her what she thinks, we enjoy traveling the world and simple pleasures just the same.