The Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts is located near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Helena, Montana, on the grounds of what was once Western Clay Manufacturing Co. brick manufacturing company. Bray, an avid patron of the arts, envisioned an art center and built the Pottery centre in the spring of 1951, the first step in his dream to ” make available for all who are seriously interested in the ceramic arts, a fine place to work.”
The foundation is a nonprofit, educational institution founded by brickmaker Archie Bray. ” Its primary mission is to provide an environment that stimulates creative work in ceramics.”
Probably the most important reason for coming to the Bray is the opportunity to work within a community of artists actively creating art. At the Bray, artists from around the world with a vast range of experiences and diverse aesthetic approaches, cultures and perspectives come together. Sharing discoveries, frustrations and triumphs, and working together over an extended period of time establishes friendships and connections that open new paths, develop careers, and change lives.
Since its inception, the Bray has drawn more than 200 ceramic artists from around the world to work, including such well-known ceramists as Tre Arenz, Val Cushing, John and Andrea Gill, Wayne Higby, Clary Illian, Jun Kaneko, Eva Kwong, Jim and Nan McKinnell, Ron Meyers, Robert Sperry, Chris Staley, Akio Takamori, and Arnie Zimmerman.
Some current artists at Archie Bray :
Andrew Martin currently lives in the Netherlands and earned his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and his MFA from Alfred University in New York. He has been a resident at the Archie Bray Foundation and the Arts-Industry Program at the Kohler Company, and was awarded two Artist Fellowship Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. His book, “The Essential Guide to Mold Making and Slip Casting” has become the standard text on the subject.
Lorne Meaden –
Lorna grew up in the western suburb of Chicago, La Grange. After receiving a B.A. from Fort Lewis College in 1994, she established a studio in Durango, Colorado. She worked as a studio potter for the next eight years. She received an MFA in ceramics from Ohio University 2005. She has recently been a resident artist at the Archie Bray Foundation.
Jeff Campana –
I draw lines by dissecting and immediately reassembling each pot. The result is a surface decoration with structural implications. The fault lines that decorate the surface threaten to, but do not actually undermine the vessel’s ability to contain, display or deliver.
“I believe that the capacity to empathize can be developed through attentive engagement with daily landscape, and that the health of that landscape affects the health of our minds. In my work, animals serve as both playful and solemn metaphors for my own interactions with the environment, as well as those of society as a whole. Through imagery and metaphor, line and clay, my work seeks to capture the viewer’s emotional interest and to rekindle her sense of wonder and discovery.”
Sean O’Connell –
“I make functional pottery based on the idea that beauty and purpose should be a part of everyday use. It is my pleasure to make these objects and my desire to see them in the hands and on the tables of people, who like me, have a passion for that which is tended and thoughtful.”
Melissa Mencini –
Melissa Mencini received her BFA from Bowling Green State University in 2000 and her MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 2003. She teaches at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Melissa has also taught at Eastern Washington University and at the University of Washington in Seattle. She was the recipient of the Lincoln Fellowship during her residency at the Archie Bray Foundation. Mencini became interested in art at an early age and enrolled in classes at a local art center in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
She makes pottery embellished with bright designs and decals and also maintains a body of sculptural work.
Kenyon Hansen –
“I believe that finely crafted, thoughtfully made pottery can contribute to a renaissance of tradition and habit. My hope is that the pots I make can play a role and be a factor in a renewal of ritual. Clay allows me to play with a physical language. When I throw or hand build, I’m engaged in the conversation, curiosity often pushes the dialog, while the desire to find something new guides me forward. I strive to create pottery that is both considered and balanced containing a healthy dose of spirit and care. “
Jennifer Allen –
Jennifer received her BFA from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2002. In addition to a formal education, she worked full time as a studio assistant for Bliss Pottery from 1998 to 2002. For post baccalaureate study, Jennifer attended Rochester Institute of Technology School for American Crafts from August 2002 until June 2003. In the summer of 2003, she was awarded the Eric Myhre Scholarship at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. In 2006, Jennifer received her MFA in ceramics from Indiana University. Jennifer was awarded the Taunt Fellowship at the Archie Bray Foundation in 2006-7.
Andrew Gilliat –
” I am fascinated how, culturally, we define ourselves and personalize ourselves through the objects we use and accumulate. The clothes we wear, the cars we drive, the shoes we buy- all of these objects reflect our personality and aesthetic proclivity both publicly and privately. Within this body of work I want to provide a framework that allows for the user to search out a bowl or cup that suits their need for function and their desire for aesthetic. With my functional pottery I am designing and fabricating objects in the want of creating visibly dynamic forms that, with the use of color and imagery, are expressive, visually inviting, and easily accessible as objects for domestic use. ”
Tom Jaszczak –
Tom received a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Art and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Bemidji State University. After graduating, Tom apprenticed for Simon Levin at Mill Creek Pottery for a year and learned the process of wood firing and developed his work further. Following Tom he was an artist in Resident at the Cub Creek Foundation.
Martha Grover –
I seek to enhance the experience of interacting with functional objects. Creating a sense of elegance for the user while in contact with each porcelain piece. Reminiscent of orchids, flowing dresses, and the body, the work has a sense of familiarity and preciousness. Direct curves are taken from the female figure, as well as the fluidity of a dancer moving weightlessly across the floor. The space between elements is electrified with anticipation and tension. I think of the fluid visual movement around a piece, as a choreographer would move dancers across a stage. Transmitting desire- there is a sense of revealing and concealing, a layering of details that serves to catch our attention immediately and then the details draw us in, to make a closer inspection.
Larry Clark –
Jordan Wood ” Chilly Aroma ” 2009
Stoneware Lowfire glaze
2008 Porcelain Glaze
Patricia Sannit Amphora 2007
Jim Connell Green carved vase
Vince Palacios Alchemy Series
Jose Sierra – El Nudo 2009
For more Archie Bray Foundation information on their artists and programs click here.