The Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts is a public, nonprofit, educational institution founded in 1951 by brickmaker Archie Bray, who intended it to be "a place to make available for all who are seriously and sincerely interested in any of the branches of the ceramic arts, a fine place to work." Its primary mission is to provide an environment that stimulates creative work in ceramics.By coincidence I was reading a 1990 Ceramics Monthly article, Living for Pottery, written by the late and great David Shaner. In the autobiographical article he writes,
In 1962, I spent the summer working at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana. The vastness of the landscape, the feeling of space, light, and color, but most of all the people attracted us to the West. Ken Ferguson was the director and resident potter at the Bray. I was in awe of Ken's production, enthusiasm, and ambition. I wondered why any person would choose to labor so strenuously with so much dedication for so little monetary reward. Little did I realize that one year later I would resign my university teaching position, and move my family to Montana in order to pursue the same goals. To me this was an opportunity creative growth.I hope you will join the Archie Bray Foundation and all of the potters who donated their fine work to meet our current challenge by bidding in this online benefit auction. Your support will help potters continue the legacy of Archie Bray as well as folks like Ken Ferguson and David Shaner, who accepted "the risk, responsibility, and hard work, necessary to keep it alive."
The Bray is a unique institution. There is no other place quite like it. The challenge seems to breed good potters. While working in relative isolation, you learn to become your own teacher.
It was my good fortune to have had the opportunity to guide the Bray during seven critical years. In retrospect, few potters would accept the risk, responsibility, and hard work necessary to keep it alive. But our family of potters pulled together to meet the challenge.
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