Featured Presenters for 2018

Akira Satake

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Akira Satake(佐竹晃) was born in Osaka, Japan and has been living in the U.S. since 1983. In 2003 he relocated from Brooklyn, New York to Swannanoa, North Carolina, where he has a wood-fired kiln and a gas kiln. In 2013 he opened Akira Satake Ceramics/Gallery Mugen as his working studio and exhibition space in the River Arts District in Asheville, NC.

Akira Satake's pieces are a collaboration between artist, the clay and the fire. By allowing the clay to become what it wants to be, his work echoes the forces and patinas found in nature, which are shaped by the elements and, specifically, influenced by the unpredictable nature of fire.

Chandra DeBuse


Chandra is a full time potter and ceramics educator in Kansas City, MO. She studied ceramics at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, was a special student at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and received her MFA from the University of Florida. She was named an Emerging Artist at NCECA in 2012 and by Ceramics Monthly magazine in the same year.

Her functional work incorporates playful imagery with pattern and form in a narrative that reflects her approach to imagination, animal characters, and landscapes. Utilizing simplification and abstraction of natural patterns and objects, her pieces become landscapes where her characters tell their stories, often humorous and metaphorical, allowing the viewer to interpret the scene in terms of their own experiences. As you hold her work, rotating it in your hands, the narrative unfolds as the view changes.


Didem Mert

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Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Didem received her BFA from Northern Kentucky University in 2014 and her MFA from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 2017. She was included on CFile's list of 15 potters to watch in 2016 and her work has been featured in Ceramics Monthly, Pottery Illustrated, and Architectural Digest.

Her work is a design-rich interpretation of functional vessels carefully balancing color, line, geometry and texture.


Larry Allen

Larry Allen has been a studio potter for more than three decades. He is a Birmingham, Alabama native, received a BA degree in Art from Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, and currently resides in Leeds, Alabama. As a studio potter, his inspiration for his intricately carved designs comes largely from African and Native American art. His delicate carvings adorn exquisitely thrown black stoneware vessels, fired multiple times.

Larry Allen is an award winning artist and celebrated clay educator. His work has been featured on multiple television networks and one of his vases was presented on behalf of the Alabama State Council of the Arts as a gift to Pulitzer Prize winner and author, Harper Lee.

Talent from Within:
Clay Conference Steering Committee,
Craft Council, and Emerging Leadership Presenters


Margaret Barber - plaster stamps and textures


Nature and its surroundings are the basis for Margaret's inspiration, along with influences from her German, Irish and Cajun French heritage. Textures are specific to her work and are achieved through slip trailing and stamping. Margaret's pieces are made of a smooth white stoneware body using slabs and thrown pieces.. Colored and natural terra sigillatas, glazes and underglazes are applied at different times throughout the process to add texture and color. Most of Margaret's surface decoration exhibits a natural or botanical motif.


Brooks Barrow - Marketing and The Media


Brooks is a self-taught sculptor, creating functional objects alongside sculpture and public sculptural commissions. He uses a process that blends old world techniques and traditional tools with a modern eye to emphasize functionality while following an austere, minimalist aesthetic drawn from nature.  Brooks shows widely including Southern Makers and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the One of a Kind show in Chicago.



Curtis Benzle - Creating Your Career and pricing your work


Curtis is the current President of the Alabama Craft Council and a former Trustee of the American Craft Council. His work is in the permanent collections of Metropolitan Museum of Art/NYC, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The White House Collection. Curtis’ production line; Benzle Applied Arts, has been carried in over 500 galleries.  His pricing presentation has been presented in over fifty workshops and lectures around the U.S. and Canada.


Joey Brackner - Face Jugs

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Joey Brackner is the director of the Alabama Center for Traditional Culture, a department of the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Since 1985, he has undertaken numerous special projects for the Alabama State Council on the Arts including co-production of “Unbroken Tradition” a film documentary on Alabama folk potter, Jerry Brown. Brackner is the author of “Alabama Folk Pottery” (2006) published by the University of Alabama Press. Starting in 2013, he has been the host of the Alabama Public Television series “Journey Proud.” Brackner is a native of Fairfield, Alabama. He received a B. A. in Anthropology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1977 and a M. A. in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1981. He was Humanities Scholar in Residence at the Birmingham Museum of Art prior to being hired as state folklorist in 1985.


Christopher Greenman - throwing off the hump


Dr. Christopher Greenman has been "claying" for thirty-five years. He learned in the Leach/Japanese tradition at Pennsylvania State University under the tutelage of master potter Ken Beittel, who authored Zen and the Art of Pottery. Dr. Greenman seeks inspiration from aesthetics of Japanese pottery and seeks to find his place in what Beittel called the "Great Tradition of pottery". He delights in creating forms that allow a viewer or user to reconnect with the world of nature. Dr. Greenman received his doctorate in Art Education from Penn State in 1990. Since then he has worked in various museums and galleries. He teaches ceramics, art education, art history, art theory and art appreciation at Alabama State University in Montgomery. His work can be seen in national, regional, and local shows.


Nelson Grice - Go Figure!



Nelson was born in Nashville, Tennessee and moved to Alabama as a teenager. He earned a BFA and an M.Ed from the University of Montevallo and has been teaching in the public schools since 1996. His professional career as a sculptor complements his role as a teacher. Through hard work and his love for art, Nelson’s sculptures have continued to evolve and grow with each passing group of students. He sees the students as an inspiration. “Teenagers live in an imaginary world,” he says, “and it’s that imagination that inspires me”. Nelson is known for his whimsical and entertaining animal sculptures and paintings. When the magazine Ceramics Monthly featured Nelson’s work, viewers were encouraged to “look a little closer” in order to “see that the work is about the child living on in the adult.”

Kristin C. Law


Kristin C. Law is the Art Programs & Marketing Director for Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts Center. She graduated with a BFA in Ceramics/Art History from the University of Montevallo, spent eight years as the Curator of Collections at the Hermitage Museum & Gardens and as Ceramics Instructor at the Hermitage Visual Arts School in Norfolk, Virginia, and two years as the Black Belt Arts Initiative Coordinator.  After moving home to Alabama in 2009, Kristin was re-introduced to Black Belt culture and artists, where the people, stories, traditions, art and history of the region have inspired and shaped her desire to share the treasures of the Black Belt with the world. Kristin was appointed by the Governor of Alabama to the 2016-2017 State Course of Study Committee: Arts and Foreign Languages for Visual Arts, is the Co-President for Wilcox ArtWorks, and is the Chairman of the Black Belt Arts Alive committee. She also treasures every opportunity to share her love for ceramics, printmaking, photography, mixed media, and regional art history with youth and adults alike through the Arts Enrichment program at Black Belt Treasures.

Steve Loucks - Glazes and their properties


Steve received his MFA in 1985 from the New York College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, NY and his BFA from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. He is a studio potter and a retired Professor of Art from Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama. Her has been awarded two Alabama State Council on the Arts Fellowship in Crafts Grants and a Southern Arts Federation/National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Crafts. He and his wife, Lynnette Hesser, have hosted the Alabama Clay Conference four times. He is an active and frequent workshop presenter. His ceramic work plays upon traditional pottery forms that transcend function while embracing it. His utilitarian pottery is elegantly or whimsically designed to perform with ease and delight to make the everyday occasion a special, pleasurable experience. The glorified vessels are based upon functional vessels but abandon utilitarian concerns for a more sculptural approach to form, surface embellishment, and presentation.


Robin Nance Metz


Meredith Knight - Brick Carving

During and after college (University of Montevallo and Auburn University) Robin worked as an illustrator and graphic designer. Her favorite clients were UM, Southern Progress, Landmark Calendars and Marcel Schurman greeting cards. Her tools were pen and ink, watercolor, acrylic and a computer. After marrying, and moving to Montevallo, Robin began working in ceramics when her husband asked her to decorate their kitchen plates.  Sgraffito with the addition of bright colors translates her favorite imagery from 2-D to 3-D.




Meredith graduated summa cum laude with her BFA and MFA in Sculpture and Ceramics from the University of Alabama. Her public sculptures have been installed in Huntsville’s Spaces Sculpture Trail at the Von Braun Center, the Gadsden Cultural Art Center, and the Northport Bamboo Park. Her work has also been shown at regional galleries including the Rymer Gallery in Nashville. Meredith is the Manager of Studio Programs at the Birmingham Museum of Art.


Stacy Morgan - Social Media and Slip Trailing


Stacy received her BFA from the University of Montevallo and is now a full time potter, working in Huntsville, Alabama from her studio in historic Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment. Her focus is creating functional and sculptural ceramics, inspired by the elements and diverse natural environment, utilizing dynamic glaze surfaces and highly textural surface treatments. Her work has been shown extensively throughout the Southeast.



John Phillips - Photography for Studio Artists


John's studio, Phillips Metal Works, combines traditional blacksmithing techniques with contemporary methods that allow him to create architectural and sculptural masterworks.  Twice names a Fellowship recipient by the Alabama State Council on the Arts, John has been featured in the “Alabama Craft” documentary on Alabama Public Television among other honors.





Tara Sartorius - outdoor porcelain tile mural


Tara Cady Sartorius, artist and art educator, is interested in connecting people, images, objects, materials and words. Sartorius studied Studio Art, Ceramics, and Art Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She taught art for six years (1978-1984) in public elementary schools in Santa Barbara. Her Masters degree (1986) is in Sculpture and Art Criticism from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Tara served as Curator of Education at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts for twenty-one years (1986-2007). She was instrumental in the design, programming and installation of exhibits of their ARTWORKS interactive gallery. For 14 years (1996-2010) she wrote the Art Across the Curriculum segment of Arts and Activities Magazine. She currently writes a monthly resource art print series for Arts and Activities connecting imagery with related subject matter. Sartorius continues to create in fused glass, painting and ceramics. Her two large public architectural 21’w x 13’h tile murals in Montgomery, AL are at the Riverfront Amphitheater, and in the ARTWORKS Gallery of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.


C. A. "Cat" Traen - Clay and the culture of community

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 C.A.Traen is an American sculptor and illustrator. She was born in 1980 near Fargo, North Dakota. Dedication to organized athletics sparked a lifetime interest in the human body which is reflected in her figurative sculpture. Traen explores perceptions of body self-image and reflections of society. Traen earned her BA and MEd from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She developed and managed the Rancho Ceramics Studio, a comprehensive career and technical program incorporating sculptural and wheel thrown ceramics into a broad range of firing processes. Traen recently relocated to Memphis, TN with Robert LaWarre III. Their mission is to found a studio gallery featuring international artists’ workshops and exhibitions along with a program of study for clay artists at all levels of experience. The most essential aspect of their vision is to enrich the local community through a non-profit outreach program.