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Studying Staley

The Perfect Jar by Potter Chris Staley

Author: Susan Whelan/Monday, January 30, 2017/Categories: The Bailey Collection

Well known throughout the clay community for his thought provoking, instructional video series about art and creativity for Penn State, Chris Staley is an outstanding potter, educator, writer, and thinker. Click here to watch the series. You won't be disappointed.
Chris Staley, potter, artist
The Distinguished Professor and Laureate of Penn State has followed a winding path to where he is now. An excellent article by D.K. Higgins on statecollege.com about Chris has all the details of a fascinating life full of art and creativity. Read it here.

"To create compelling pots one has to dig deep within yourself. You have to notice what you notice in the world around you. Notice what moves you. It's a question of making your thoughts and feelings real. It can be so easy to fall back on some conventional tropes.  In the end, as clich√© as it may sound, the artist has to follow their muses. One of the things I most love when working in the studio is when I suddenly try something with no intention of keeping what I am making. It is incredibly liberating to presume that it will not be kept. And then sometimes because of the absence of the ego something magical takes place."

-Chris Staley

A Comment from Anne Bailey

I'd know this work anywhere. In 1983, I was about to have a one person show in New York City at Surroundings Gallery. Chris Staley's work was coming down from his one man show and I was dazzled by the his brilliant turquoise glazes and use of metallic black glaze on soft fluid forms. I'd never seen anything like it.


Knowing his work and understanding the sheer grace and ease of it is something we can all appreciate. I know it's hard work getting to that place where one has mastered the material, but there's something more here than just the hard work. Chris Staley walked through a magical door. He understands clay in the deepest kind of way by seeing its vulnerabilities, yet understanding the potential of its strength and beauty to stand up and communicate our deepest emotions.

So, if you are out in the world looking around at things, you may find an historical piece of pottery like I did. Not known by the seller but known to me immediately. I was grateful and elated to have such a beautiful piece of our ceramic heritage.

If you love someone's work, study it. Then, you'll know it when you see it.  I bought the Chris Staley jar right away for The Bailey Collection. Now it's here for everyone to enjoy. Come see us, we have over 500 clay pieces on display in our offices and showroom including our perfect Chris Staley jar, circa 1983.

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