Courtney Long grew up in the in mountains of North Central West Virginia. “The visually chaotic rough landscape surrounding my parents carved out homestead instilled in me a profound appreciation for nature. While discovering residues of man-made assemblages such as old fences and pottery shards, I developed a link to the past and need to create objects that would withstand time beyond my existence”. Courtney Long grew up in the in mountains of North Central West Virginia. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from West Virginia University and traveled to China receiving training from the Xian Light Institute of Technology in Xian and the Jingdezhen Porcelain Institute in Jingdezhen. She also completed summer workshops at Penland School of Crafts, Penland, North Carolina; Santa Fe Clay, Santa Fe New Mexico; Anderson Ranch, Good Hope Plantation, Jamaica; and the Art School of the Aegean, Samos Greece. Long received her Master of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University in 2004. Today, she is a pottery instructor at Western Piedmont Community College. She is the College’s Professional Crafts Coordinator, overseeing all curriculum and continuing education crafts programming including Fine Woodworking, Pottery, Clay Sculpture, Metals and Blacksmithing. She lives on a farm located in Morganton with her husband, two horses and a blue heeler.
I grew up in the mountains of North Central West Virginia. The visually chaotic and rough landscape surrounded my parents carved out homestead; and instilled in me a profound appreciation for nature.
I’ve always been innately attracted to the physical nature of working with clay materials and completion of process. While discovering residues of previous man-made assemblages such as old fences, pottery shards and glass bottles, I developed a link to the past and need to create objects that would withstand time beyond my existence.
My earliest childhood memories are of dark soil squishing between my toes as I gathered tomatoes from the garden, sculpting sand houses, and playing with clay. During the spring and early summer months, the road grader’s metal blade would slice the roadside revealing fresh deposits of white and red earthenware. The early morning hours were best for playing in the clay. My Grandmother Ilene owned a ceramics studio and I would proudly transport my pinch pots for her inspection. She produced thousands of slip cast wares and taught classes. Because of her, I literally grew up with a brush in my hand. I spent years of my young life becoming lost in the ceramic surface which explains my never ending need today for ornamentation. It has taken me years to find restraint, sometimes I give in to this urge and other times I pull back.
Early in my career, I traveled extensively throughout China, before modernization took over. No words can describe the impact those summers spent making pottery there had on me as young potter. To say I learned “rhythm” would be an understatement. All of my travels combine in my work and show themselves in whispers, not direct imitation. I am not a folk potter because of my classical training but I am easily inspired or deterred by my environment.
Today, I am a studio potter living in North Carolina. I draw inspiration from the old homesteads; the Piedmont region’s red dirt, fall colors found along the Blue Ridge Mountains and local folk and Native American pottery traditions. Living on a farm, I find pure enjoyment watching animals interact while going about their daily habits. They become characters in my stories. They are my personal icons symbolizing moments or moods in my life. The chicken represents fertility and knows before any other animal when danger is near. The squirrel symbolizes abundance and gathering. Rabbits are fearful but always in a hurry, they represent the future. Blue birds are happy, deer quick and graceful, horses are strong and endure and foxes are clever and adapt well. Different animals turn up on my pots as the seasons change and my life evolves.
I enjoy making specialized objects adorned with animals and foliage that have nothing to do with necessity but are utilitarian in their own right. If only for a brief moment, these objects aid in daily activities before becoming part of the day to day backdrop as life transpires. In my home, the kitchen is the center of all activity. Handmade pottery is used daily and symbolizes conscious cooking, eating and even cleaning up with friends and family. Little moments accumulate overtime and although they carry my narrative, another kind of narrative is placed on these objects in a way that could never be achieved if left unused, sitting on a shelf. It is only after a lifetime of usage that the pots truly become powerful family heirlooms, evoking a lifetime of stories connected to its users through memory and experience.
All pottery is food safe and dishwasher safe. All items should be dry before heating in the microwave. Do not put pottery directly on top of stove.