Steven Summerville fell in love with the transforming magic of clay as a small child in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and that passion has sustained him for a lifetime. His studies at Berea College in Kentucky trained him to make strong, simple forms that are completely useful, fun to look at, and make everyday living more interesting and satisfying. He believes that good pottery can serve all these functions simultaneously. His Berea mentors helped him to develop technical proficiency, his own personal style, and a reverence for the well-made useful pot.
During his apprenticeship, he dd research into 17th century English slip ware and as he worked with slip trailing, he discovered his own voice emerging in combining functional shapes with animated handles, knobs, and eventually legs. The surface decoration went from bands of pale color with simple dots to entire surfaces encrusted with bright colors and bits of pattern drawn from nature, antiquities, and other cultures. After 26 years of potting he produces a lyrical line of earthenware that is not only functional but unique and entertaining as well.
Today Steven works in the studio he built at his home in Bumpass, Virginia, tending his garden and goats, making pots 8-12 hours a day, and sharing his home with friends and loved ones . He feels truly blessed to have this lifestyle that has been supported by a large and loyal following of customers who have discovered his work at craft shows up and down the East coast.
"I knew I wanted to make pots since age 10 when I saw a professional potter demonstrate throwing (that’s 1966!). By the time I entered college I knew I wanted to be a potter.
I was trained in an apprenticeship program at Berea College. 1975-1978.
The tradition I was trained in was all traditional English and Japanese Pottery making.
Since beginning my own work 27.5 years ago, my goal was to make pots that was distinctive to myself and also pots that I had not seen before.
My work has been about expressing my joy in in life always within a completely functional context. Subjects that inform my work are my love of dancing, nature, studies in art history and pursuit of the challenge of ‘If I can imagine something, I can make it.’
My current work is revisiting a range of pots that I’ve made throughout my life in clay. Reimagining and re developing the function and joy of making pots that are not only satisfying to myself, that also seems to make people happy with this work. "