Donna Polseno, Director
Donna Polseno received a B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute and her M.A.T. from the Rhode Island School of Design. She moved to the mountains of Virginia after graduation and has been a studio artist since 1974. She started her career making pottery which she continues to do, but diverged to a parallel career of making figurative sculpture in the 80’s. She has received two National Endowment of the Arts Grants and a Virginia Museum Fellowship. Essays about her work have been published in many magazines including Art & Perception and Ceramics Monthly. She is in several books about pottery and sculpture including Sculptural Ceramics (cover photo) by Ian Gregory. She has taught many workshops and summer programs at schools including Penland School of Crafts, Arrowmont School of Crafts, The Bascom, Appalachian Center for Crafts, Long Beach Foundation, and Anderson Ranch Art Center. She has been an invited participant at a symposium in Izmir, Turkey, has taught twice at the WVU exchange program in Jingdezhen, China, and teaches each summer at La Meridiana – International School for Ceramics, in Italy, as well as showing in the second annual Concreta exhibition in Certaldo. She has been teaching ceramics at Hollins University since the inception of the program in 2004
Leila Philip is the author of three books of narrative nonfiction, including The Road Through Miyama, (Random House 1989, Vintage 1991), for which she received the 1990 PEN Martha Albrand Special Citation for Nonfiction; and the award-winning memoir A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three Centuries, Five Wars, One Family (Viking 2001, Vintage 2002, SUNY 2009). Philip has received numerous awards for her writing, including fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and National Endowment for the Humanities. Fluent in Japanese, she writes frequently about art. Her writing on ceramics has appeared in venues such as Art in America and Art Critical. She is a professor in the English department at the College of the Holy Cross and an honored visiting faculty mentor in the low-residency M.F.A. program at Ashland University.
Her forthcoming book is Water Rising (www.water-rising.com), which was released by New Rivers Press at Minnesota University Moorhead in the fall of 2014. In this collaborative work of text and image, Philip’s realist poems—about nature, beauty, love, and loss—are presented alongside the sculptor Garth Evans’s abstract, deeply hued, layered watercolors. The words and the images interact to create a moving meditation on the power of art to express and explore our deepest human emotions. This is the first professional collaboration for Philip and Evans, who have been married for 20 years.
Keynote: “Apprenticeship in Two Cultures: Writing and Ceramics”
Leila Philip, who studied ceramics for two years in southern Kyushu, Japan, as an apprentice to a master potter, will talk about her apprenticeship in clay and about how this intensive experience ended up leading her to undertake a second apprenticeship in writing. The author of the award-winning book The Road through Miyama, based on her experiences as an apprentice from 1983-85 in rural Japan, Philip will talk about how her study of craft influenced both her decision to become a writer and her approach to her work as a writer today. Her talk engages questions such as: What is the role of apprenticeship in craft and in writing? What is the overlap between crafting a pot and crafting a piece of writing? How do we keep alive creative interests that enlarge and sustain us while devoting ourselves to our chosen field, whether that be the making of pots or the building of stories?