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Mark Pharis

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Houston MN, 1974

My introduction to ceramics began in the fall of 1967 at the University of Minnesota.  I 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, Minnesota 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 thrown, and once fired in a wood and oil fired kiln. Since 1992, I have worked exclusively in earthenware. My three-dimensional forms are handbuilt and arrived at through the use of two-dimensional paper patterns and slab built The process owes much to the traditions of patternmaking found in sewing and sheet metal work.  When considering form I think about and use geometry while making these pieces, however, it is casual, intuitive and not derived from serious math.

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