The wholesome look and feel of the pottery of Sandra Harrington mirrors her approach to her craft. The symmetrical beauty of her bowls, platters and cups reflect that balance and uniqueness that …
The wholesome look and feel of the pottery of Sandra Harrington mirrors her approach to her craft. The symmetrical beauty of her bowls, platters and cups reflect that balance and uniqueness that buyers are looking for when they purchase a handmade piece of cookware or decorative work.
What seems to come so naturally to Harrington, though, is the result of a process which began in childhood. Her father was the chairman of a university department of design, and both parents loved the visual arts and music.
She grew up in a family where, as a child, she was expected to voice her response to the abstract art hung on the walls of her home. Harrington says about her growing up, "My sister was the artistic one."
In high school, Harrington became interested in pastels; in college, it was leatherwork. Expected to secure a dependable financial future for herself, Harrington became a clinical social worker, and she worked in that field for many years. Interestingly, that field led her back toward expressing her creativity.
At a new grade school in Hawaii she was hired to create the counseling program for children. Since young children require the engagement of the imagination to express themselves as they process troubling events in their lives, Harrington brought in the fun and infinitely malleable material for these young children: clay.
The more she worked with children through the medium of clay, the more she herself became attracted to it. Soon she needed a pottery studio.
In 1996, Harrington started her own studio in Hawaii. In 2002, more than done with counseling, Harrington and her painter husband, Roger Harrington, moved to Taos with the goal of devoting themselves full time to their artistic dreams.
She has shown her work in galleries in Taos and in Truchas. The Harringtons opened their own gallery in Taos, showing the work of 25 artists. Eventually, though, they closed their gallery and moved to Questa.
ArtQuesta features a gallery where Harrington shows her pottery and her husband his landscapes and jewelry, and it also houses their studios. Space for a potter's wheel, room for the production and drying of dozens of cups and bowls, and two kilns is a serious consideration. In addition, the space had to be large enough to accommodate a jewelry studio and a few easels. The gallery, a well-arranged space, invites both the casual browser and the serious buyer.
Harrington has yet another kiln outside of their home. It is a wood-fired kiln that she built, following "the ancient way of firing pots in Asia." It takes two cords of wood burning for 32 to 36 hours to reach the necessary 2400 degrees. Needless to say, this Japanese inspired method is a communal, semi-annual event.
While this mostly self-taught potter admires the native approach to ceramics, she said, "I love the (potter's) wheel. It's so challenging." She also enjoys working with clay slabs. About the creative process, Harrington emphasizes the meaning of each piece. When making a mug, for example, the feeling emerges that "this is the only mug in the universe." She said, "It's meaningful for you, and you hope others will like it and support it."
"I think we need to keep relationships with things that are handmade," adding that people in this area with their history of agriculture understand this more than in other areas.
In her 15 years in Taos County, seven of which have been in Questa, she has spent considerable time packing and transporting her pottery to arts and crafts shows. In the future she hopes to market more of her pottery on the web.
Throughout her artistic career she has focused primarily on form and function. "Surface design has been an afterthought," she comments. "I also yearn for quiet periods of winter when I can get closer to the poetry of the moment and work more intuitively with a pot and where it wants to go." She wants "to start with a problem I really don't know how to solve" and work it through.
"There is a time in the night," she said, "when the mind is clear. And something will come to me about a problem in the studio. There's a lucid moment. I get ideas about design. Some make it to paper. Some I really want to make."
Harrington likes to follow her creative impulses and encourages others to do the same. "Who cares if it's important?" she asks. "Do it!"
ArtQuesta is located at 2322 State Road 522 in Questa. Call Harrington at (575) 224-0182 or visit artquesta.com.
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