Dennis Swartzlander

Hometown: Adrian, MI

Medium: Pottery

Bio: I fell in love with ceramics while a junior at Adrian High School in Adrian,MI. I had transfered in at the start of my junior year and I suspect I was looking for an easy class to help get me through my last two years of school. Immediately, however, I was hooked and I started taking ceramics very seriously.  My teacher, John Hartom, was a wonderful instuctor who spent a lot of time and energy with his students,  especially those who seemed to have a real interest in clay.  Field trips to The University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Cranbrook, and various studios and museums exposed us to the  work of John Loree, Suzanne Stephenson, John Glick, Marie Woo, Toshiko Takaezu, and many  other  ceramic artists as my interest grew. Later John Hartom and his wife Lisa Blackburn founded the Empty Bowls movement.  John is still a good friend to this day.  After graduating in 1976, I went to work in our family printing business and left ceramics alone for about five years. On my honeymoon in 1981 I happened upon a ceramics gallery and bought a bowl, beginning a period of serious collecting.  Fast forward to1999, my wife noticed an article for ceramics classes at the Toledo Potters guild, and suggested I give them a try. I then signed up for classes at Siena Heights University, studying with Paul Mcmullan, and later, Tim Van Beke. I now teach Introduction to Wheel Throwing and Intermediate/Advanced wheel throwing at Siena as well as Adult Community Ceramics classes with Cody Sieler, also at Siena Heights.

“I love the freedom that clay gives me to work with various shapes and glaze color combinations. My favorite shape has always been the vase/bottle with a thin neck. Not really functional in most cases, and more sculptural, I have just recently begun to work on my own interpretations of that form.”