The Morean Center for Clay’s 500-
cubic anagama was built in 2012
under the guidance of the late Don
Reitz, a preeminent potter and professor
of ceramic art at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison. Located outside
year, and when that happens, it’s a very
big deal. A constant supply of fuel is
needed for temperatures
to be maintained at around
“About 30 people par-
and unloading. It takes
wood burning around the
it going,” says Matthew
Schiemann, a clay artist at the Morean
Center for Clay and manager of the
center’s artist-in-residence program.
The preparation is vigorous. It takes
three days to load the kiln with the
approximately 1,200 pieces of pottery
waiting to be glazed. “It’s an intense
process and you have to load it just
right, keeping it packed tight and
avoiding gaps,” says Schiemann.
The result is worth it. The heat of the
clay pieces and the minerals in the clay
itself react to form a unique glaze with
many variations in appearance. Where
the pieces are placed within the kiln
ticipants attend lectures and demonstrations
“WHAT WE ARE OFFERING HERE IS A
PROGRAM FOR EMERGING TALENT—WE’RE
A LAUNCHING PAD FOR SOMEONE’S CAREER
AS A PROFESSIONAL ARTIST.”
from the nation’s top
Schweiger and Matt Long are the
national experts invited to the upcom-
The anagama may be the star of the
show, but it’s just one of 14 kilns avail-
kilns. “We have everything that a clay
artist might need,” says Scott Knaust.
She points out that many of the clay
center’s members have moved here to
be part of this active clay community.
whose handbuilt stoneware houses
are collectors’ items. After spending
winters here, Richardson moved from
Washington State permanently in 2014.
She has a studio and teaches classes
at the Morean and lives nearby in the
Historic Kenwood Artist Enclave.
The clay center is also known for its
highly competitive artist-in-residence
program. The one-year residency is a
work exchange, with students not only
creating pottery, but also assisting with
the center’s operation, learning how to
the kilns to maintaining inventory and
setting up gallery shows.
“What we are offering here is a program
for emerging talent—we’re a
launching pad for someone’s career as
a professional artist,” says Schiemann,
an MFA graduate of the University of
Schiemann initially came to the clay
center as an artist-in-residence himself,
and now oversees the program.
Six students a year are accepted, with
applicants coming from all over the
U.S. and the world. One of the
artist this year is from Korea. All
have earned either their bach-
experience working in clay.
In keeping with the Morean Art
Center’s mission of arts education,
the clay center is also big on
public outreach, with a summer
camp program for youth. There is also
a Friday night or Sunday afternoon
program to teach people how to hand
build or use the pottery wheel. It’s a fun
experience, but as someone who has
than it looks! St. Pete is fortunate to
have such a talented group of artists
with the vision, patience and skill to
work with clay.
— MATTHEW SCHIEMANN
Photos courtesy of the
Morean Center for Clay.