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Make/Know/See/Believe: A Conversation with Mark Shapiro and Sam Taylor

February 13 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on February 13, 2022 at 10:00 am

- $75 – $200

Make/Know/See/Believe is a 2-day workshop with Mark Shapiro and Sam Taylor. Mark and Sam will bring everything they do in their studios to this dynamic collaborative experience. We will throw, carve, alter, construct, decorate, and everything in between with an eye to bouncing all of our individual approaches off one another, creating an environment that values exploration. We are seeking the next pot and the next question. The event will include artists demonstrations and discussions on Saturday, and hands-on exploration of those experiences on Sunday.

Saturday, February 12: A Conversation Through Making
Mark and Sam will share their many years of making and decorating pottery and on and off the pottery wheel in a fun and interactive day. All are welcome to attend this event and experience the unique approaches of these two artists and the intersections of their process.

Sunday, February 13: Hands-on Workshop: The Conversation Expands
An interactive studio day with Mark and Sam. Participants will have the opportunity to explore the techniques discussed on Saturday with input and assistance from the Artists. This will be a hands-on event using The Umbrella Ceramics Studio facilities. All levels welcome; limited to 12 students; Saturday attendance required.

Saturday ONLY ($75): Click here to register
Both Saturday AND Sunday ($200): Click here to register

Instructor bios
Mark Shapiro
In 1986, I moved from New York City to rural Western Massachusetts to make pots and build a wood kiln. I was able to buy a shipwreck of an old place that has an unusual feature from which I took the name for my pottery—a stone pool that Russell Conwell, turn-of-the-century preacher and educator and founder of Temple University in Philadelphia had built in 1893. The farmhouse, where Conwell was born, is rich in history—it had been a stop on the Underground Railroad during Conwell’s childhood, and he remembered John Brown and Frederick Douglass staying at the house.
While working on the place, I dug up a shard of a gray salt-glazed four-gallon crock that happened to have the makers’ stamp on it. “Hastings and Belding, Ashfield Mass.” It turned out to have been made only about 15 miles from my home and studio, at the middle of the last century. It got me thinking about pots that were made, bought, used, broken and disposed of within a specific region and the connection this implies between the community of users and makers. It led to my decision to move and restore the old shed (the one where fugitive slaves had slept) for use as a gallery to welcome local people at the pottery. It also prompted a deeper interest in early New England potters and their wares. In particular, the pots made from 1790–1830, wonderful swelling volumes of ovoid forms with their firing scars and flashing, spoke to me as powerful vernacular objects.
Before moving to Western Massachusetts, I had been living in New York and making sculpture while supporting myself as a carpenter. The turn to pottery answered the vexing problem that I had been unable to resolve with my sculpture: Where does the stuff go? On a pedestal in patron’s living room? In front of a building? In a museum storage vault? As a potter, on the other hand, my work would be held and used; it would stay in the main places of people’s lives. And, I could control most aspects of creative production—the making, finishing, marketing and selling of the work, crafting a context that preserves and enhances the humanity of users and makers. As my work has evolved over the past several decades, I continue to be compelled by the challenges making of domestic pottery, but I have been drawn into community projects and historical research. Most recently, I have been studying the early nineteenth-century African-American master potter, Thomas W. Commeraw, and am co-curating an exhibition on his life and work that will open at the New-York Historical Society in early 2023.

Sam Taylor
For many years I lived in Gloucester and made pottery there. And for many years, each month when the moon was full, in fair weather and in foul, I trekked out to the end of the Dog Bar. Since moving away from Gloucester, I am not always able get to the Dog Bar for the full moon. Occasionally I am able to lure Dog Boys out to my pottery in Westhampton, Massachusetts. We have no ocean and we have no breakwater but it’s pretty nice out here anyway. We are located between the Connecticut River Valley and the hills of the Berkshire mountains. The Dog Bar Pottery is within 15 minutes of Northampton MA, close to town but still in the country. We are on the North Branch of the Manhan River so when you come see us, bring a bathing suit or a fishing rod or an extra pair of shoes, or, if you know any; a dog tale.

Registration for all youth and adult winter arts classes and workshops, as well as youth vacation week programs and summer arts camps, can be in-person, by phone at 978-371-0820 ext. 204, or online at TheUmbrellaArts.org/Education. For more information, contact education@theumbrellaarts.org.

ASK ABOUT: New student, military family, sibling discounts, and tuition assistance for individuals and families through the MCC EBT Card-to-Culture program.

The Umbrella is a multifunction, nonprofit regional arts center dedicated to enriching lives and building a vibrant and inclusive creative community in historic Concord/Greater Boston-Metrowest. Its programs encompass arts education classes and summer camps, theater, music, film, visual arts galleries, sculpture exhibits, makerspace, public art and environmental events, and 50+ artists studios.


February 13
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
$75 – $200
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The Umbrella Arts Center


The Umbrella Community Arts Center
40 Stow St.
Concord, MA 01742 United States
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