“The story goes back about eight years. I started interviewing Indiana potters all around the state for a project that I was doing with Traditional Arts Indiana. I happened to go up to Goshen to interview Mark Goertzen and Dick Lehman. They both said, ‘Hey, we’re having a pottery tour next month. Why don’t you come check it out?’ I was like, ‘OK.’ I had no idea at that time that there were so many incredibly talented potters working in that area.
I came up to the pottery tour in 2012, the very first year. I’ve been there every year since. I was so blown away, not just by the quality of work and number of people, but just by the sense of community and the sense of support for one another that I was hearing from everybody. Everybody was, ‘Oh, you’ve got to check out so-and-so,’ or ‘Oh, so-and-so was my student.’ I got this great taste of this incredible community and I was just so fascinated. I just kept coming back and was really excited to learn more.
I was actually in grad school at the time. I was doing a degree in folklore studies at IU. My focus going into grad school was on contemporary potters or contemporary ceramics. Folklore is not just stories. It’s all about ways that people communicate – often ways that people communicate informally. So I got really interested in the idea of art as a profession, and the ways that people build these informal networks. All through grad school, this kind of became the focus of my research, and I ended up writing my dissertation about Michiana potters. It kind of took shape as a book through that process. I thought, ‘This is an incredible community that people could learn from.’”