Published: May 29, 2007
Mary Scheier, an internationally known ceramic artist noted for her superbly thrown pottery vessels, died May 14, 2007, at age 99. Her death was announced by Susan Strickler, a friend and the director of the Currier Museum of Art, to which the Scheiers gave their personal collection.
Born Mary Goldsmith in 1908 in Salem, Va., she studied art in New York City in the late 1920s at Grand Central School of Art, the Art Students League and the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts.
In 1935, she was appointed director of Big Stone Gap and Abingdon Art Centers, the first federally sponsored art galleries in Virginia. There, in 1937, she met Edwin Scheier. They were married on August 19, 1937, and embarked upon a career together making pottery.
In 1939, they set up their first studio, Hillcrock Pottery, in Glade Spring, Va., making small sculptures and functional pottery using local clays they dug themselves. The next year, they won second prize in ceramics at the Ninth Annual Ceramic National Exhibition at Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, now the Everson Museum. This was the first of many prestigious national awards.
Essentially self-taught potters who collaborated on the production of functional pots for many decades, Mary and Edwin rose to become major figures in the studio pottery movement within a few years. Mary was able to throw very thin yet utilitarian pots, which she complemented with simple glazes, often invented by Ed, thus enhancing the elegant vessels for which she was famous. Ed became noted for his imaginative surface decorations and glazing.
In 1940, they were invited to teach at the University of New Hampshire. They lived, worked and taught in Durham, N.H., until 1968, when they moved to Oaxaca, Mexico. In 1978, the Scheiers moved to Green Valley, Ariz., where they have lived since.
The Scheiers’ work is in museums across the country, including the American Craft Museum, the Everson Museum of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Newark Museum, the Ceramic Research Center, Tempe, Ariz., the Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum and the Currier Museum of Art. The University of New Hampshire Special Collections also has important holdings of their work.
In 2003, Mary and Ed Scheier were given the Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award by the governor of New Hampshire; and on May 10, they received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen.
Mary Scheier is survived by her husband Edwin Scheier. No services are planned.
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