by Bonnie Rusinko
Before introducing local potter Catherine (Cat) Jackson, I would like to share a little information about the art of pottery.
I bet if you look around your home, you will discover that you actually own a piece of pottery, either in the shape of a cup, vase, dish, tile (functional pottery) or figurine or piece of jewelry (decorative pottery).
Pottery dates back thousands of years and is one of the oldest forms of three-dimensional art. The term refers to objects made of clay that is fashioned into a desired shape then dried, fired or baked.
Functional pottery was first introduced by the Japanese about 13,000 years ago, when they produced clay pots/vessels used for food.
Eventually, the use of special ovens to parch grains and bake bread paved the way to the development of pottery from dishes to figurines being fired in a kiln.
The invention of the potter’s wheel in West Asia led to mass production, availability and affordability for all.
Cat was born and raised in West Virginia, graduating from West Virginia University with a degree in art and business.
When you meet Cat, you realize instantly how much she enjoys nature and the simple things of life. Walking in the woods, watching the trees, birds and deer that surround her log cabin home and studio nestled among the hardwoods are inspiration to her.
While at WVU, she met her husband, Jack, who felt the same about nature. Both hoped to find a home in the forest to start their lives. While on a bicycling ride, they found their log cabin home over 29 years ago. Cat knew this would be the perfect place for creativity and to raise their lovely daughter, Anna, a nurse in the area.
Throughout her childhood, Cat was surrounded by various forms of art with never-ending encouragement and support from her parents.
One of her fondest childhood memories is of her father, described by her as a gentle giant. He would tell her stories of “up on the farm” and of the war. His big hands would cultivate his rose gardens and build miniature tall ships with all the detailed riggings. She was in awe how such big hands could create such intricate things.
Cat said it was her mother who saw an artist in her and arranged for art classes at a very young age. Through those lessons, art became an integral part of Cat’s life. In art school, her emphasis was painting and drawing … then she discovered pottery.
Yes, Cat might be a quiet person, but when she is working in her studio, she seems to explode with passion and inspiration as she molds that next creative piece of art. She feels it is a privilege to mold clay (a gift from the earth) into works of art for people to enjoy.
Cat uses clay that comes mostly from North Carolina. When you hold a piece of her pottery, you are holding a small piece of our beautiful state.
Supporting the arts is very important to Cat, especially local art. Her creative pottery can be seen at her studio in Marvin and is featured at many galleries and art events throughout the year.
Although Cat is a great artistic potter, she is quite accomplished in her paintings, as well.
Cat was a delight to interview and I look forward to seeing more of her beautiful pottery.
Rusinko is a member of the Waxhaw Arts Council.