Ruth Fischer Rutkowsky
Ruth Fischer Rutkowsky makes work that blesses, work that encourages. Her work inspires contemplation and fosters peace. When you see Ruth’s work you immediately recognize that her heart and soul goes into every piece.
Life is long and has many seasons, periods of time where our experiences and choices shape who we are and who we are becoming. Ruth has been making pots since 1993. Ruth joined well known potter Michael Rutkowsky in his rural Yancey County, NC studio when they were married in 2011. That studio became Rutkowsky Pottery in 2018, when the two businesses merged. She spent the last ten years in her home studio in rural Yancey County, NC. In 2021, she decided it was time for a major change. So, when Ruth called me to see if there was some way to be a part of what we do here at The Village Potters, I was excited to talk with her about the prospect. The whole TVP collective embraced Ruth joining us. We moved things around and created a personal studio for her and now The Village is her new home.
Why is Ruth changing her work life so dramatically after ten years? It is simple really. Ruth says she needs a deeper connection, that it is time for her to share her passion, her skill and her joy for making.
“After living a rather isolated life in the mountains for 10 years, I have yearned to return to a more social environment, where I can connect and feel part of a greater whole… an environment where I can grow and help others grow.” Ruth said.
“The best way for me to learn is to teach. Also, one of my greatest joys is to help others help themselves, so it’s a win-win!” Ruth said.
Ruth has a brightness about her. Some people just glow. You know them, they greet you with a smile that says let’s be joyful. Ruth is one of these people. She chooses joy and life in each moment of each day even when she has to strive for it.
Ruth is a natural born creative. She is an accomplished potter who works on the wheel, sculpts and hand builds.
When I ask her about clay as her medium, this is what she says:
“Working with clay requires me to pay attention to many variables at every stage of the process, and it demands me to be fully present. Seeking a life as a clay artist has encouraged me to simplify my life to be more fully present in general. It is a practice. So, every time I begin to create with clay, I know I have shown up, to be present, and that makes me happy.”
When I ask Ruth to describe herself in one word, she says that she is a “seeker”, a “seeker of meaning”. This translates into her work where she integrates “meaning” using symmetry and text.
Ruth’s work is deeply influenced by her spiritual journey. Her prayer orbs are a perfect example of this connection.
“I am most inspired with my work when it involves themes that move me. To make a series of functional ware, for example, I am much more successful when I consider a deeper meaning or theme that moves me.” Ruth said.
Ruth is a swimmer. She lights up when she talks about it. When swimming Ruth is grounded, it is her home. Like clay on the wheel it is where Ruth finds center. Coming to The Village has also brought her closer to her pool and rest assured being closer to her pool is a big part of her reason for change.
“Swimming is my happiest place, for sure.” Ruth said. “I grew up swimming in freshwater lakes and rivers in WI. My brothers and I rode our bikes and spent entire summers at the community pool. We lived in our swimsuits when we vacationed in Northern WI at our family cabin on Long Lake.”
Change is exhilarating and it is hard, but to grow it is necessary. There is a duality to change. The cost is high. When we change we plow new soil, sow new seed, water that seed and wait for it to grow. Change requires flexibility and patience. Ruth has these qualities and I am confident she will become fully a part of The Village family in perfect time. We are going to share in her transition and celebrate together. We all here at The Village are thrilled that Ruth has chosen to plant and grow here with us in this changing season of her life. Now exploring new rhythms in her studio life at TVP, her work will be seen both as a resident potter at TVP, and also as a partner of Rutkowsky Pottery. Ruth is a current member of Toe River Arts and also a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.
Find more of Ruth’s work at these links:
Sarah Wells Rolland
The Village Potters Clay Center