by Dearing Davis, The Village Potters & Red Clay Halo Pottery
When you walk through the door at the Village Potters there is a sense that something is different. It is evident that our gallery space is exquisite and displays unique, gorgeous work, however there is something else. Something that you may not be able to put your finger on at first, but with time will be able to identify as a culture of generosity and hospitality that permeates the space. Everyone that enters is welcomed with a genuine smile and an invitation to become a part of what we are doing and who we are. The invitation comes as an option to take a class or workshop, to tour our studios, or to take home a handmade piece of ceramic art that will become a part of daily life.
Those of us who get to be at the Village Potters on a regular basis are especially blessed. There is an unparalleled sense of community. We share ideas, inspiration, tools, conversation, meals, and life with one another. When scheduling conflicts or a personal need comes up we are quick to volunteer to look after a kiln, greet visitors in the gallery, or cover a drying pieces in order to be there for one another. It would be impossible to count the number of times we have shared our food, excitement about pieces fresh out of the kiln, or even our tears over challenging moments in life. The collaboration does not stay within these walls, but it extends throughout the Riverview Station building, the River Arts District, and the entire city of Asheville.
For years the Village Potters has partnered with The Empty Bowls Project and MANNA Food Bank. During The Empty Bowls Project event attendees buy tickets to a lunch or dinner donated by area restaurants. Each ticket holder chooses a handmade bowl created by a local artist which is then filled with soup and bread. They take home this bowl knowing that they have contributed to feeding local families and as a tangible reminder of the empty bowls all over the world. In addition to contributing to this incredible project, this year we have begun a new collaboration with another local non-profit called the Asheville Poverty Initiative. API has started the “12 Baskets Cafe” which provides lunch to the community on a daily basis. The project reduces food waste by using fresh, already prepared foods from local organizations that would otherwise be discarded.
For weeks our Independent Study & Mentoring students and resident potters have been making and glazing bowls, mugs, tumblers, and plates for these incredible projects. We have been cranking out pots and firing our kilns to donate 144 place settings to the 12 Baskets Cafe. It is truly amazing to see the way our community is working together to contribute to making the larger Asheville community better. The individuals who eat off of these pieces made with natural materials, generosity and love are able to benefit from our community of sharing. They are able to receive a gift of generosity as we experience the gift of generosity inside our Village Potters community. Which in essence is the definition of generosity.