I was fortunate enough to travel to New Mexico this past Christmas, a place which is always a draw to me because of its mix of centuries of tradition in the arts and its reputation as a contemporary artists’ Mecca. The natural clay deposits in the arid Southwest have allowed indigenous peoples to make pottery here for centuries, and the practice continues throughout New Mexico and Arizona with breathtaking results.
The culture of ceramic art is strong in the Phoenix area in great part due to the long-standing support of the Arizona State University Art Museum and its Ceramic Research Center. The Museum sponsors an annual self-guided Ceramic Studio Tour (which already took place in February 2010) and maintains one of the largest public collections of contemporary American and British ceramic art in the nation. Many ceramic studio artists have chosen to move to this area because of the Arizona State University’s fine Ceramics program, its Ceramic Research Center, and the very large community of ceramics studio artists in the general area.
Nicholas Bernard has been a studio potter for more than 30 years. While his work is shown at galleries throughout the United States, it is in the beauty of Arizona that he has chosen to live. His inspiration in largely self-generated, but he acknowledges the importance of the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Northern Arizona Museum, the Ceramics Research Center in Tempe, and the strong arts culture in Santa Fe as influences in his creative life.