Mark Pharis

My introduction to ceramics began in the fall of 1967 at the University of Minnesota.  As I began my education at the University, I found my way into several art classes and eventually the clay studio.  I had been encouraged by my best friend’s parents to study with Warren MacKenzie, which I eventually did. It was a transformational experience. I studied with a cohort of talented and committed undergraduate students at the University until 1971.  In the summer of 1973 I set up a pottery studio in a rural area outside of Houston, MN and produced work in that studio until 1989.  In 1985 I joined the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota as a faculty member. I served as the chair of the department from 1998 to 2004 and as Associate Dean in CLA from 2005-2008. Nearly all of my early work was functional, wheel thrown and "once fired" in a wood and oil fired kiln. Since 1992 I have worked exclusively in earthenware.  Today, my work is hand built from forms cut from slabs using two-dimensional paper patterns.  The process owes much to the traditions of pattern making found in sewing and sheet metal work.  I think about and use geometry while making these pieces.  However, it is casual, intuitive and not derived from serious math.