NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Alysha Baier, the next Greer Lecturer at Bethel College, wants to share what she loves about making pottery, and making a living through pottery.
Baier will spend March 1-2 at Bethel as a guest artist, working with students. She will also give a public presentation March 1 at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building chapel.
Baier’s connections to Bethel come through Tree House Pottery in Dillsboro, North Carolina, where Bethel Professor of Visual Art and Design David Long also sells his work, and Travis Berning, a Greer Lecturer in 2014.
Baier runs her own business, Baier Pottery, sharing studio space with fellow potter Kala Stein and ceramic sculptor Robin Whiteman. The collective business is known Honeoye Pottery, after its location in upstate New York.
“My interest in ceramics began my sophomore year in high school,” Baier says. “Mark Peace was our teacher, who had previously made his living by selling his work at art shows.
“I knew then that wherever I ended up, I would be taking more ceramics classes in college. That is what I did my third semester of school at Western Carolina University [Cullowhee, North Carolina] as an art major.
“My classmates invited me out to many different wood firings and events. One of these took place at Tree House Pottery in Dillsboro.
“In 2006, I met the owners of Tree House Pottery, Joe Frank McKee and Travis Berning, while I was helping to load
the wood kiln. My dad was in town a few days later and [I took] him into Tree House to show him the wood kiln and check out the shop. Joe Frank remembered me, and said, ‘Hey, you want a job?’”
Not only did Baier accept the offer on the spot, she also decided not to complete her undergraduate degree at Western, but instead take two years of advanced pottery classes at Southwestern Community College (Sylva, North Carolina) with McKee as her instructor.
She continued working at Tree House Pottery, while also assisting with preparation for the Western North Carolina Pottery Festival (an event that McKee, Berning and Brant Barnes founded and organized). This led to a recommendation for an artist-in-residence program in Cincinnati.
“In August of 2009, I was introduced to Laura Davis, owner of Core Clay in Cincinnati,” Baier says. “At the time, Laura had plans to start a residency program at her facility. I became the first artist-in-residence at Core Clay.
“Along with teaching and keeping up the studio, I also assisted in organizing workshops and with building renovations, had community involvement and assisted an in-house professional mannequin sculptor.”
In November 2010, Baier moved back to her hometown of Conesus, New York, where she set up an in-home studio, working side-by-side with her mother, Cathy Higgins.
“While working full time at home, I also had a part-time job at a local ceramic supply shop and studio – Studio Sales Pottery, owned by Mike Carroll of Avon, New York,” Baier says.
“As well as teaching and [helping organize] classes at the studio, I co-founded with Mike the Western New York Pottery Festival, located on the property of Studio Sales. The festival was expanded from a summertime event that Mike would host each year to promote gallery sales and gain exposure for his business.
“The event became a juried show of 20-plus ceramic artists with additional live demonstrations. The upgrades to the show were inspired by the Western North Carolina Pottery Festival.”
Meanwhile, Baier says, “I soon outgrew the [home] studio space as well as the kitchen, living room and many other rooms in the house that my worked seeped into. Kala Stein, a friend and local ceramic artist, also decided it was time for a more utilitarian space.
“We found a perfect, ready-to-use studio space located in the hamlet of Honeoye.”
She continues, “I keep a whimsical and loose approach to all my work, which is thrown on a wheel and then altered. I fire to cone 6 oxidation, as well as occasionally dabbling in wood or salt firings and horsehair pottery [technique], decorative only. All of my work is made to be functional and enjoyed thoroughly.”
The late Dr. Robert C. and Amparo Goering initiated the Greer Fine Arts Endowment at Bethel in 1979 in memory of their friend Milford E. Greer Jr., who was interested in literature and music and excelled as an artist, and who died in an auto accident in 1972 at age 45. The Greer Endowment helps bring visiting artists and scholars in the areas of music, visual arts or theater to the Bethel campus.
Bethel College ranks at No. 1 in College Consensus’ ranking of Kansas colleges and universities, and is the only Kansas private college listed in the Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2017-18. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.
Bethel College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, sexual orientation, parental or marital status, gender identity, gender expression, medical or genetic information, ethnic or national origins, citizenship status, veteran or military status or disability. E-mail questions to TitleIXCoordinator@bethelks.edu.