INTERVIEW: Donna Potter

Vogue Robinson interviewed local clay artist and teacher Donna Potter recently to highlight the upcoming 15th Annual Nevada Clay Guild Empty Bowl Benefit on March 21st at Green Valley high school. Below are the highlights of the interview. 

EBowltableHow did you become involved with the Nevada Clay Guild and what are some things you have accomplished that you are proud of with them?

I have been involved with the Clay Guild since the 1990’s. The mission of the Guild is to promote the advancement of the ceramic arts and provide educational opportunities. As an educator, pairing-up with the Guild was a no-brainer. Throughout the years I have organized many workshops that has brought together many local ceramic artists. Also, I brought the Empty Bowls Benefit to the Guild for their support. It has been a excellent marriage between the arts and community service.

We at Helen are excited about the upcoming Empty Bowl Benefit! It’s great to see an organization combining art with community service! Where did the concept of the Empty Bowl Benefit come from?

The Empty Bowls project is a major part of a nonprofit organization called Imagine Render. Their mission is to create positive and lasting change through the arts, education, and projects that build community. I began our local Empty Bowls Benefit 15 years ago.

Let’s say someone decides that they’re interested in making bowls after they’ve chosen a bowl at the benefit, what can they do to learn more about the craft?

There are several studios around town that provide lessons in wheel throwing. My studio, Mission Hills Pottery, Aardvark-Zebra Clay, Clay Arts Vegas are a few that come to mind.

donnapotter3We heard that you teach classes at both Green Valley High School and in your own studio. Helen wants to know, do you offer special rates for groups who wish to attend your classes?

Currently, I am only teaching advanced students. But, as I get closer to retirement from teaching high school, I will develop a section for people who are new to clay.

How would you describe the activities in one of your beginners classes?

When I taught beginners, my goal was to make sure everyone developed the skills to throw a cup, bowl and plate on the potter’s wheel. Once they had those skills down, then the students would move toward more advanced forms like pots with lids, teapots, handles, etc.

What is your favorite thing about pottery?

I love the way the clay feels in my hands. The clay is very responsive. Once you learn how to work within the clay’s characteristics and limitations the potential is endless.

What are some future goals you have for your life and/or career?

It is with sadness and excitement that I am retiring from teaching high school art at the end of this school year. Teaching has been the joy of my life. I will continue teaching from my studio and I’m looking forward to becoming a Studio Potter, traveling and sleeping-in.

donnapotterFind out more about Donna and Mission Hills Pottery on her website here.

emptybowlThe Fifteenth Annual Empty Bowl Benefit and Auction will be held on Saturday, March 21, 2015 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Green Valley High School (460 Arroyo Grande Blvd. in Henderson). The event is sponsored by the Nevada Clay Guild, Green Valley High School, Aardvark Clay, and the Fiber Guild. Tickets will be $15 for adults and $12 for children and may be purchased at the door. All proceeds from the luncheon will benefit the Las Vegas Catholic Worker and their soupline serving the poor and homeless.  A lunch of soup and bread will be served in hand made ceramic bowls. Each attendee will select their own unique ceramic bowl made by members and friends of the Nevada Clay Guild and keep it as a lasting reminder of world hunger. A live-auction of bowls made by prominent artists will take place from 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. There will also be a silent auction during the event. For further information, contact Julia Occhiogrosso at (702) 234-0755 (c) or Donna Potter at (702) 799-0950, ext. 114034.

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