Artist of the Month

Gallery 104 highlights handcrafted
pottery by Michigan native

DeGrafff has converted
his farm into a classified forest

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

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 will sell.”
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, Ind.

Carl deGraaf

Photos provided

Originally from Michigan, pottery
artist Carl A. deGraaf is this month’s
featured artist at Gallery 104.
His artwork (below) reflects the
practicality of his Dutch ancestry.

Carl deGraff art

“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 master’s degree in School Psychology and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He is currently professor emeritus of Educational Psychology at Indiana University’s 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 she’s 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. DeGraaf’s 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 making.
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, deGraaf’s long-term goal is to transform the property into a public arboretum.
The farm was named for two more of deGraaf’s 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 deGraaf’s work at Gallery 104, contact the gallery at (502) 222-3822 or visit: www.aaooc.org.

Back to August 2010 Articles.



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