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My work in clay takes obvious divergent directions. I use both thrown and hand built methods of making both containers and sculptural forms. I see both directions as sculptural.

Clay as a material fulfills two basic and essential needs I have as an artist/potter: utility and aesthetic. The pragmatic need for utility is satisfied as form follows functional criteria such as ... how much liquid should the pitcher hold? ...will it pour well? ... is it well balanced? ... does the handle feel comfortable? ... how heavy is it when full? These consciously made decisions are essential for the container to successfully fulfill its appointed task. The aesthetic need is satisfied in a sculptural form without regard for "container" decisions. The aesthetic response stimulates the senses, motivates a visual reaction, elicits a question, offers a tactile relationship ... a response that is "personal" for each individual viewer.

Clay, as a material is natural, honest, pure, direct ... demanding integrity from the user ... commanding respect! Dishonesty and unnatural abuse of the clay will be rewarded with cracks, distortion, or destruction when subjected to the intensity of the fire in the kiln!

Clay won't be forced to do what it can't do ... you must become one with your clay ... a natural working relationship ... an extension of self ... that's the quality ... the beauty ...
the joy of clay.

After receiving the Associate degree from Tennessee Wesleyan College in 1954, I transferred to East Tennessee State University for my B.S. degree in Fine Art with a concentration in painting in 1956.

The two years ('56-'58) in the U.S. Army teaching military subjects in Army Administration motivated my desire to teach art. I taught two years in a Virginia high school, took art education and graduate courses at ETSU and in 1960 moved my family to Knoxville to teach art and coach football and golf at Central High School.

 In 1967, I began teaching in the Art Education Department at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. My work with clay began in 1972 when I accepted responsibility for the clay methodology class in the Art Education program.

 In 1974, I built a 16 cubic foot propane gas-fired kiln and began the Red Shed Pottery. I have since rebuilt the kiln twice enlarging it to 30 cubic feet and fired with natural gas. The last twenty years making clay stuff has been a constant source of joy, exhilaration and hard work.

Paul and Susie Watkins
Paul with his wife Susie

watkins WA