Richard Aerni Biography
I came to clay by accident. After a New Year’s Eve party in the early 1970’s, the room in which I had been told I could sleep turned into a gallery of wood-fired pots at first light. The colors and textures of the glazes captivated me. A couple of years later, when I found some free time from the restaurant in which I was part owner, I took a class at the local pottery…six weeks of Tuesday nights, 6-9 pm…it was enough to hook me.
Though I have no formal education in clay, or art for that matter, I have managed to make my living as a potter for over twenty-five years. It has been my good fortune to share the company and talents of many an accomplished potter on my journey to competency in clay. All of them have left their mark on me, as have the many mistakes and false starts I have made along the way.
Eventually I discovered the processes that have marked the parameters of my work—ash glazes and single firing. I feel in tune with the patterns and textures the ash creates, and the decision to single fire led me down paths which have greatly influenced the way that I visualize, form, and finish the pots. The look of the ash glazes has not paled over the twenty years I have worked with them. They have changed along the way, and change still, and that search for, and exploration of their nature is part of the joy and challenge I find in clay.
I work alone in the studio, doing everything from unloading the clay off the truck to packing and shipping the pots as they come out of the kiln. The rhythms of the studio, the pace of potting, are things that I have grown accustomed to and love. The lifestyle of the potter, where the work never stops, but which also leaves time to cook, garden, and attend to the many details of family life, is one of the great benefits I enjoy. The knowledge that the pots I make go out into the world, into the lives of those who choose them, still leaves me with deep feelings of gratitude and humility.
Richard Aerni Description
I am a full-time potter working in an urban studio in Rochester, NY. I produce single-fired, wood ash glazed functional stoneware, selling out of my showroom, at art fairs and at galleries all around the country.
I learned my craft in a community studio in Cincinnati, Ohio, rather than in an academic institution, as is common today. Surrounded by extremely talented and generous potters, I learned much of what I needed to know to earn my living. Michael Frasca, Brenda Brown Tarbell, Michael Astalos, Bob Hasselle and Pam Korte are just a few of the folks to whom I owe a large debt of gratitude. It was a good way to learn, without academic term deadlines and able to absorb and progress at my own speed.
After a few more years working and learning in other potteries, I set up shop in Cincinnati and worked with Michael Frasca, and later Allan Nairn at Spring Street Pottery. We produced a line of gallery pots and architectural work until 1987, when I moved to the Finger Lakes region of western New York State. I worked in beautiful rural solitude for 16 years before moving to Rochester.
Now I share a large studio in the Hungerford Building in Rochester with three other potters, each of us producing our own line of work. Please feel free to stop by anytime, or contact me, if you have questions or requests.