Hill Center’s “Pottery on the Hill” features the exquisite work of 20 of the nation’s finest ceramic artists. This annual pottery show and sale kicks off with a ticketed preview reception and silent auction on Friday evening. The event continues throughout the weekend with free admission for the public to explore and purchase one-of-a-kind creations.
This year’s roster boasts 20 ceramicists from various regions, including:
• Christina Bendo from Waynesville, NC
• Danielle Carelock from Charlotte, NC
• Guillermo Cuéllar from Shafer, MN
• Andrea Denniston & Seth Guzovsky from Floyd, VA
• Dan Finnegan from Fredericksburg, VA
• Richard Hensley from Floyd, VA
• Matt Kelleher & Shoko Teruyama from Alfred Station, NY
• Michael Kline from Bakersville, NC
• Matthew Metz from Alfred Station, NY
• Doug Peltzman from Shokan, NY
• Donna Polseno from Floyd, VA
• Mark Shapiro from Worthington, MA
• Stacy Snyder from Arlington, VA
• Sam Taylor from Westhampton, MA
• Catherine White & Warren Frederick from Warrenton, VA
• David & Junko Young from Gettysburg, PA
Pottery on the Hill shines a spotlight on functional pottery, emphasizing pieces that are not only artistic but also designed for practical use. The showcased handcrafted masterpieces encompass a diverse range of items, from mugs and pitchers to plates, serving platters, vases, and planters. The show allows attendees to support the ceramics community, contributing to Pottery on the Hill’s reputation as one of the premier pottery shows in the nation.
A Celebration of Clay Art
This year, the exhibition welcomes an array of new exhibitors, offering new perspectives on ceramic making. While Pottery on the Hill has a core group of exhibitors, show curator Dan Finnegan always makes room for guest artists, providing the expo’s audience with an opportunity to see a wide array of new works.
Two of the spotlight artists of this year’s edition are David and Junko Young, an artist couple who have not only mastered the craft of pottery but also manage a family farm in Gettysburg, PA. With an inspiring journey that includes studying pottery in Japan, their story reflects a blend of culture, art, and agriculture. David and Junco Young bring new ideas about farm-to-table or more precisely, farm-to-plate-to-table to this year’s Pottery on the Hill.
North Carolina and the Pottery Connection
When I interviewed Finnegan about highlights of this year’s show he was in the North Carolina Highlands where he was teaching a pottery course at the world-famous Penland School. North Carolina has been a center for ceramic making in the United States since the colonial era. Geologically, the region’s ubiquitous clay deposits made it an ideal location for pottery production. Coupled with the presence of the Penland School, one of the oldest craft schools in the country, the region is home to many prominent American potters. This year’s Pottery on the Hill hosts three ceramic artists from the Tar Heel State, including Christina Bendo, Danielle Carelock and Michael Kline.
Minnesota’s Flourishing Pottery Scene
New to the show this year is Guillermo Cuéllar, originally from Venezuala. He has found his artistic home in Shafer, Minnesota. His journey in ceramics is intertwined with the legacy of Warren MacKenzie, a renowned American potter who nurtured several generations of ceramic artists. Guillermo’s creations seamlessly blend functionality with a heartfelt tribute to the indigenous crafts of Venezuela. Cuéllar plays an essential role in his community, hosting the St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour since 2009. This eagerly anticipated annual gathering unfolds against the breathtaking backdrop of the St. Croix River Valley in Minnesota.
From Electric to Atmospheric Firings
Not all pottery is created alike. Pottery on the Hill features a wide range of firing methods, each creating vastly different final products. While most participating artists fire their pottery at high temperatures (around 2,350 degrees), the firing process itself varies significantly from one artist to the next. For example, Stacy Snyder employs the use of imagery and decals on her pottery. To produce exact results, she uses an electric kiln. In contrast, artists like Mark Shapiro, Sam Taylor, and Finnegan employ atmospheric firings. These firings, often using wood as fuel or introducing salt into the chamber, infuse unique character and texture into the pottery. You never know what you are going to end up with until the firing is done!
Touching History Through Clay
This year Finnegan has organized a special treat for the participating ceramicists. A curator from the Smithsonian Asian Art Museum will guide them through the unique privilege of not just observing, but physically interacting with vessels that have endured the rigors of history, spanning hundreds and even thousands of years.
What is clear is that regardless of the approach each artist takes, the common thread weaving through Pottery on the Hill is an unyielding passion for clay. The diversity of techniques, inspirations, and backgrounds on display at the event is a testament to the enduring allure of the medium. With each piece, the potters participating in the event leave their fingerprints on history, bridging the divide between utility and artistry.
Demonstrations and Silent Auction
Throughout the weekend, visitors can enjoy special highlights, such as a Raku Firing with District Clay on Saturday and engaging potter demonstrations and conversations on Sunday. In addition, select potters will donate pieces to a silent auction, with proceeds benefiting Hill Center’s operations. Pottery on the Hill promises a diverse array of functional and beautiful work, a testament to the exceptional craftsmanship of these American artisans. Hill Center is located at 921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE.
Fri., Nov. 17: Ticketed Preview Reception; 6:30pm-8:30pm Tickets: $40/advance, $45/day of
Free Show & Sale; Sat., Nov. 18, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Sun., Nov. 19, 11am-4pm
Raku Firing with District Clay; Sat., Nov. 18, Noon to 3pm
Potter Demonstrations ; Sun., Nov. 19
Hill Center is located at 921 Pennsylvania Avenue SE
Phil Hutinet is the founding publisher of East City Art, DC’s visual art journal of record. For more information visit www.eastcityart.com