The Michiana Potters

The Michiana Potters

Art, Community, and Collaboration in the Midwest
Meredith A. E. McGriff
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 08/03/2020
Format: Paperback 94 color illus., 6 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-04965-0
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A new pottery tradition has been developing along the border of northern Indiana and southern Michigan. Despite the fact that this region is not yet an established destination for pottery collectors, Michiana potters are committed to pursuing their craft thanks to the presence of a community of like-minded artists. The Michiana Potters, an ethnographic exploration of the lives and art of these potters, examines the communal traditions and aesthetics that have developed in this region. Author Meredith A. E. McGriff identifies several shared methods and styles, such as a preference for wood-fired wares, glossy glaze surfaces, cooler colors, the dripping or layering of glazes on ceramics that are not wood-fired, the handcrafting of useful wares as opposed to sculptural work, and a tendency to borrow forms and decorative effects from other regional artists. In addition to demonstrating a methodology that can be applied to studies of other emergent regional traditions, McGriff concludes that these styles and methods form a communal bond that inextricably links the processes of creating and sharing pottery in Michiana.

Author Bio

Meredith A. E. McGriff is Membership Director of the American Folklore Society.


"In the context of previous studies of American ceramic traditions, both historic and recent, McGriff makes a substantial contribution to this field of scholarship by offering a fresh way of thinking about handcraft in postmodern America. One of her study's potential strengths [is] as a model to point the way for similar studies in other parts of the country."

 (John A. Burrison, author of Global Clay: Themes in World Ceramic Traditions)

"McGriff breaks important new ground that will enrich the understanding of the creative processes associated with object making [and] enables the reader to better understand how the study of potters working together can be a powerful tool for understanding regions and groups."

 (C. Kurt Dewhurst, author of Folklife and Museums: Twenty-First Century Perspectives)

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Table of Contents

1. Michiana Connections: An Introduction
2. Education, Identity, and Vocational Habitus
3. The Michiana Aesthetic and the Collaborative Process of Wood Firing
4. Collection Practices: Maintaining the Aesthetic
5. More Than Pottery in Michiana; More than Michiana in Pottery
6. The Potter’s Social Life
Epilogue: Constant Change
Appendix I: Michiana Pottery Tour Maps
Appendix II: Apprentices, Assistants, and/or Interns
Works Cited