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West of CenterArt and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977$
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Elissa Auther and Adam Lerner

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677252

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677252.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MINNESOTA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.minnesota.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MNSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Pond Farm and the Summer Craft Experience

Pond Farm and the Summer Craft Experience

(p.128) Chapter 8 Pond Farm and the Summer Craft Experience
West of Center

Jenni Sorkin

University of Minnesota Press

In the mid-twentieth century, studio craft provided a vital arena for women as teachers, thinkers, and makers. Ceramics in particular, with its emphasis on self-sufficient rural living, offered women unprecedented social freedoms, with the opportunity to live and teach in nontraditional settings, such as cooperative, experimental, or self-initiated communities. From 1952 until 1980 potter Marguerite Wildenhain (1896–1985) presided over Pond Farm, a community entirely of her own making: a summer program devoted to the discipline of pottery, which ran twenty-eight consecutive summers. Pond Farm was located at a redwood forest seventy miles north of San Francisco, outside of Guerneville, California, along the banks of the Russian River. This chapter examines the extreme lifestyle, somewhere between summer camp and boot camp, surrounding Wildenhain’s teaching methodology at Pond Farm. Under her rigorous European-workshop style instruction, students threw forms eight hours a day, but took nothing with them when they left. By purging her students of the desire to produce finished pots, Wildenhain set her students on a course of nonobject production. This is a radical reformulation of pottery, redirecting it away from its traditional object-based orientation in favor of process. Thus, at Pond Farm, craft became valued not as a commodity but as an experience.

Keywords:   Marguerite Wildenhain, women potters, Pond Farm, countercultural movement, nonobject production, pottery

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