Eminent Potter Tom Turner to Visit CSC

Eminent Potter Tom Turner to Visit CSC


Ceramic artist Tom Turner will bring his decades of experience to Ceramic Supply Chicago on Saturday, June 8.  Visitors will have a rare opportunity of talk with this eminent artist about his lifetime of making, teaching, and selling ceramic art.


“We all start at the same level,” he says, “but I can offer insights from 55 years at the highest level of achievement.  I want to hear what young people have to say about ceramic arts today – Where is your head?  What are you thinking?”  Turner sees a dramatic change in the ceramic art movement and is eager to share his insights.


Part of what he calls “a northern US academic movement,” Turner’s teachers are among the best in the 20thcentury, including James Wozniak who mentored Turner at Illinois State University.  As an undergraduate and graduate student, Turner reaped the benefits of a strong academic commitment to the arts.  “We were tuned in to everyone who was working in the field – at Alfred University, Madison, Penn State – it was a contemporary ceramic arts movement,” he recalls.  “I received an incredible education.  Even as an undergraduate, I was getting pieces into national shows.  The community was linked through the American Craft Council and its Craft Horizons magazine.”


As a young man, Turner became part of this academic community at Clemson University in 1971, after service in the US Army.  Drafted during the Vietnam era, he trained at Fort Jackson, SC and served there as an art teacher in the Special Services division.  The mandatory service interrupted his graduate studies at Illinois State, but he says he came to appreciate the exposure to American Folk Pottery in the South.  While in the Army he was asked to build a program at Clemson, within the College
of Architecture.  and established a studio in Liberty, SC.  It was here that he developed his signature Copper Red Vapor Glaze. In 1976 he resigned as a tenured Assistant Professor to devote all of his energy to his work and it was then that he returned to glazed porcelain. He developed his own porcelain clay body, which is manufactured by Standard Ceramic. 

Turner saw a change in focus on the arts in academia, sensing the end of what for him was a halcyon era.  He rues the transition of art departments to “visual communication” or “graphic arts.”  “After I left academia, I was still a teacher,” he says, “but I switched to workshops.”  He set up a studio and a gas-fired car kiln in Lake Mary, Florida and later moved it all to Akron, Ohio in 1982.  He established Peachblow Pottery near Delaware, Ohio, which he operated for eighteen years.  He moved again in 2005, to Mars Hill, North Carolina and established yet another studio. Throughout these years, he produced a substantial body of work which was widely exhibited and sold.  He now resides in Morris, Illinois, where he sells his work online at www.tomturnergallery.com.  He sees a weakening of the market for fine art, which he attributes to the aging of serious collectors.  He points out that the dearth of young collectors can be linked to the lack of art education.


Turner sadly admits, “What I was all about is all over,” but he nevertheless has something to share with today’s potters.  The wealth of a lifetime of creating, teaching, and thinking about art is what he has to offer.  At Ceramic Supply Chicago’s Saturday Series, he plans to bring some of his work.  He wants people to feel the weight, appreciate the balance, feel the tightness of a lid.  But most of all, he wants to talk, to share ideas, and to listen to those who will come after him.


To learn more about Tom Turner, visit www.tomturnergallery.comand www.tomturnerporcelain.com.


Stop in to talk with Tom Turner, on Saturday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at

Ceramic Supply Chicago

2480 Delta Lane

Elk Grove Village, IL 60007