Phyllis Blair Clark was a regional celebrity in the ceramics world.
An exhibition curator, workshop host, scholarship founder and energetic ceramics collector, Clark’s professional and personal life was seemingly consumed by all things clay before her passing in 2015.
This month, Dennis Clark – Phyllis’ son – and his wife, Susan, generously donated handmade studio pottery from Phyllis’ expansive collection to Edinboro University. Showcased in the East Hall ceramics building, the collection represents the work of national and international potters, providing a valuable resource for Edinboro students to study various creative approaches to studio pottery.
In 2013, Edinboro University professors Lee Rexrode and Charles Johnson borrowed pottery from this collection to be included in a Ceramics Invitational at Edinboro’s Bruce Gallery. Fast-forward to Nov. 9, when the Clark family, residents of Wooster, Ohio, visited Edinboro’s art department to share their matriarch’s love of ceramics and open the public display for the EU community.
“Phyllis Clark did all of this out of her love, dedication and passion for hand-made studio pottery, not for any personal recognition,” said Rexrode an EU ceramics professor since 1990. “A glimpse into her home attests to this passion – the walls are lined with pots she has collected over several decades from artists far and wide.
Phyllis Clark spent three decades as the assistant curator and secretary of the art department at the College of Wooster in Ohio. In the early 1970s, Clark organized a yearly workshop that included an exhibition of studio pottery. In addition to collecting ceramics, she also contributed regularly to Ceramics Monthly magazine.
“We are extremely grateful to Dennis and Susan Clark and would like to acknowledge their generosity publicly, to our campus community,” Rexrode said.
According to Rexrode, Phyllis Clark sought to support emerging artists as well as established master craftspeople. She also nurtured students through her scholarship program and sponsored dozens of awards of excellence for functional pottery at the Ohio Designer Craftsmen’s annual member exhibition.
“Her commitment has brought a wealth of exposure to the ceramics medium and has helped artists develop and thrive over many, many years,” he said. “Anyone who knew Phyllis is immediately energized by her enthusiasm for studio pottery and her warm personality.”
Some of the potters featured in the Phyllis Clark collection include David Shaner, Jeff Oestreich, Virginia Cartwright, Harding Black, Wayne Bates, Linda Arbuckle, Warren MacKenzie, Kevin Crowe, Chris Staley, Dick Lehman and Mark Nafziger and international potters Jim Smith and Phil Rogers.
To learn more about Edinboro University’s art program and to view the schedule for the Bates and Bruce galleries, visit www.art.edinboro.edu.