of the Month
104 highlights handcrafted
pottery by Michigan native
his farm into a classified forest
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. (August 2010) After 67 years
of living and observing the world around him, Carl deGraaf brings a
unique perception to his handcrafted stoneware pottery. Educated in
the field of psychology, deGraaf is a self-taught potter who produces
functional pieces that are anything but common.
DeGraaf said the quality that makes his artwork unique is in the
chances I take. I make what interests me, more than worrying about what
Born in Detroit, deGraaf grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich., and worked
in education for about 30 years. He then moved to Carbondale, Ill.,
Madison, Wisc., and Arkadelphia, Ark., before settling in Floyd County,
from Michigan, pottery
artist Carl A. deGraaf is this months
featured artist at Gallery 104.
His artwork (below) reflects the
practicality of his Dutch ancestry.
I am basically self-taught and am a good reader,
so I have really learned from the great masters who write about pottery
and who share photos of their work, said deGraaf, 67.
DeGraaf holds a doctorate degree in Educational Psychology, a masters
degree in School Psychology and a bachelors degree in Psychology.
He is currently professor emeritus of Educational Psychology at Indiana
Universitys southeast campus in New Albany.
His creative outlet is pottery, something he can physically construct
with his hands that will produce a functional outcome. DeGraaf is the
featured August Artist of the Month at Gallery 104 in La Grange. The
gallery is located at 104 E. Main Street. He has been a member of the
Arts Association of Oldham County for the past three years.
His pottery is a beautiful mix of geometric with organic line
and ancient mixed with modern form, said Arts Association of Oldham
County and Gallery 104 Executive Director Kathy Dowling. The glazes
he uses are beautiful earthen tones ranging from cool to warm with his
unique linear carvings and patterns.
DeGraaf is a founding member artist with Gallery 104 and a past art
instructor, said Dowling. His work is predominantly functional
from mugs to jars with lids to beautiful vases of all shapes and sizes
and at an affordable price range.
Dowling said shes had many compliments on the Artist of the Month
displays. Visitors find the single artist display a nice contrast
to the mix-it-up style of Gallery 104.
DeGraaf said of his work, Ceramics is a very large field and hand-made
functional work like I tend to make is but a very small part of the
field. DeGraaf, who now lives in Elizabeth, Ind., said, I
tend to like useful things that are fun to look at.
The reasoning for this may stem from his Dutch heritage. DeGraafs
work often reflects such Dutch traits as practicality and functionality.
His grandfather deGraaf was known in his native Holland as a pottenbakker,
the Dutch word for potter.
DeGraaf uses a wide range of forming techniques and surface treatments
on the stoneware pottery he has been making for more than 30 years.
He began making pottery from a chance relationship with a university
colleague who was successful at selling what he crafted. Seeing his
colleagues success convinced deGraaf to try his own hand at pottery
His pottery can be found at Hidden Hill in Utica, Ind., and the Brown
County Craft Gallery in Nashville, Ind. DeGraaf was named an Indiana
Artisan in 2008 and attends two arts and crafts shows a year, including
the Three Rivers Festival Art in the Park in Fort Wayne, Ind.
DeGraaf and his wife, Karen, live on an old farm that has been converted
to a classified forest. Known as Arbor Harbor, deGraafs long-term
goal is to transform the property into a public arboretum.
The farm was named for two more of deGraafs vivid interests, growing
trees and sailing. He also enjoys cycling, gardening, photography and
wood working, interests that are apparent in his work and that affect
its shapes, patterns and function.
Beyond being utilitarian, less than as extravagance, hand crafted
pottery is a modest indulgence to be enjoyed as a luxury on a daily
basis, said deGraaf.
For more information on Carl deGraafs
work at Gallery 104, contact the gallery at (502) 222-3822 or visit:
Back to August 2010 Articles.