Gerry Williams, master potter, magazine editor, teacher, mentor, passed away Sunday, August 24, 2014, after a battle with Parkinson's disease.
A longtime resident of Dunbarton, Williams was the co-founder of Studio Potter magazine and Phoenix Workshops, and has been a model and source of inspiration for ceramic artists around the world. Williams was selected as New Hampshire's first Artist Laureate by Governor Jeanne Shaheen in 1998, and in 2005 was honored with New Hampshire's Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award. Williams once wrote, "Potter is what I do, who I am, where I come from."
Williams was born in India in 1926, the son of American missionaries. He attended Cornell College in Iowa during the war. Influenced by Gandhi, Williams states, “There is a lot of the spirit of India in my work, though not necessarily in the form of pottery. The political effigies that I do certainly come from my India experience because I look after them not as sculpture, but as folk art. The ambiance, the dignity of crafts, the importance of manual labor, the spiritual necessity of the humanistic core of crafts all come from my background in India.”
He began his career in ceramics by taking classes at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen in the early 1950s when studio pottery was gaining recognition in the United States. New Hampshire was home to a number of significant artists in the studio ceramics movement such as Vivika and Otto Heino, Mary and Edwin Scheier, Karl Drerup, the Baileys, Ed Keen, George and Maija Salo, Lily Hoffman and Joseph Tripetti. Gerry Williams was inspired by these master potters when he built his own studio and home in rural Dunbarton, New Hampshire.
He was not only a leader and an inspiration as a ceramic artist, but also a technical master in developing a photo resist process to lay images directly onto vessels. Also, he is noted as a master of the Copper Red Glaze, an elusive and challenging technique to attain.
Williams’ works are a part of many public and private collections including; the Smithsonian Institution, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Currier Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, Fleming Museum and George Walters Smith Museum in Springfield, MA.
A quote from the support materials of Williams' 2005 Governors Arts Award application:
“Along with personal creative achievements in his ceramic work, his generous spirit of giving is widely appreciated in our craft community, and no more so than among potters in New Hampshire. Gerry is a peaceful unassuming man who has made and continues to make a powerful impact on the craft community in New Hampshire as well as internationally. As a ceramic artist who has worked in this state from the time he first toughed clay, he has persevered to follow his dreams, quietly and humbly attainting the goals that most could not even dream.” potter, Maureen Mills.
Photograph by Lynn Martin Graton, taken at the October 2007 Governors Arts Awards reception.