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Richard Fairbanks (1929-1989)
American studio potter


Plate, 1967American studio potter and teacher Richard Fairbanks (1929-1989) studied at the University of Washington under Paul Bonifas, earning a BA in 1953 and at Mills College under Antonio Preito, earning an MA in 1955. A Fulbright Scholarship enabled him to study at the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki, Finland in 1959-60. He taught at Mills College from 1954-55, Drake University from 1956-59 and 1960-63 and at Central Washington University from 1963-89.

Fairbanks was a member of the American Craft Council and an associate member of the British Craftsmen Potters Association (now Craft Potters Association).

Bowl, 1975

Inspired by his experiences in Finland and his research in Eastern Europe in 1986, Fairbanks made wheel-thrown, vessel-based work from a coarse stoneware clay.

Jar, 1980In 1993 Matthew Kangas wrote the biography Richard Fairbanks, American Potter. In 1999 his wife Dixie Parker-Fairbanks posthumously published his letter exchange with Finnish potter Kyllikki Salmenhaara as Essential Passions: Fairbanks-Salmenhaara Letters, 1959-1987 and in 2000 the account of their research into Eastern European folk art Silent Sunflowers: A Balkan Memoir.

Richard FairbanksMany thanks to Dixie Parker-Fairbanks for background information and images. Images © Dixie Parker-Fairbanks.

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