Of the 21 Agost potteries operating in 1985, only 4 remain active. I published an article on the three story kilns of Agost in Ceramics Monthly in 1989. One pottery fired 11,000 botijos in a month in one firing.
While in Southmost Texas I was inspired by local flora and fauna as shown with this piece.
39th Annual International Art Show, Brownsville Museum of Art, Brownsville, TX
BEST OF SHOW,
"One day driving home from Billings to Huntley,Montana I passed a field of Black Angus in fresh Spring grass and immediately thought RAKU!"
The Wild Horse Range was about an hour away from my home. I loved to visit the horses and look at the spectacular views.
Gardening in Huntley,Montana on May 18, 1980 I watched the ash from Mt. St. Helen's eruption approach from the West. I later used the ash for glaze.
From growing up in Philadelphia to
teaching Ceramics and working in Clay in Montana for 31 years and then setting up a studio in Texas. Now back in Montana after a decade away. Traveled the world quite a bit exploring Clay things . Now I'm home!!
Marcia Selsor is a full-time ceramic artist, workshop presenter, writer, teacher and alchemist investigating making marks on ceramic surfaces. She has a BFA from the Philadelphia University of the Arts. She had an MFA from Southern Illinois University -Carbondale. Her professional experience spans 50 years and includes 25 years of teaching at Montana State University-Billings where she was awarded the title Professor Emerita by the State Board of Regents. She was awarded two Fulbright Scholars Awards; Spain 1985-86 and Uzbekistan 1994. She was a Visiting Faculty at University of Hawaii-Manoa and University of Texas-Brownsville. She has taught workshops both in the U.S. and internationally at Centro Agost in Spain;1996-1999; Crema in Seville, Spain 1996; La Meridiana since 2001-2015; Kelowna Clayfest in British Columbia, 2004, Raku Masters Class atAIR Vallauris in France 2012; CRETA in Rome, Italy 2015, The Scottish Potters Association 2016. She has had 12 residencies both in the US and abroad including the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana 2002; AIR Vallauris in Vallauris, France; The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Pa. 2003; and at CRETA in Rome, Italy and as a member of an International Symposium at El Torn in Barcelona, Spain 2016. Her work is included in public and private collections in 10 countries on three continents. She has served on the Board of NCECA and the Potters Council and on the Technical Staff of Ceramics Monthly for 5 years. She loves to teach and share her knowledge and experiences of working with other ceramic artists worldwide. She recently moved back to Montana and set up her studio in Red Lodge.
On Becoming a Ceramic Artist
I always was drawing as a child. My first grade teacher told my mother that "Marcia lives in her own world, and who is to say it isn't a better place?" I was happy to sit at a table with a pencil and piece of paper drawing. In 1961 my aunt offered to send me to the Philadelphia Museum College of Art (now the Philadelphia University of the Arts) to Saturday morning art classes when at age 11. It was over an hour commute by bus and subway to downtown Philadelphia. After classes I would stash my art portfolio and tool box into a subway locker and explore historic Center City all afternoon often being in trouble for coming home so late. Sometimes I'd sketch around Carpenter's Hall, Independence Hall or Old Christ's Church or I'd go to museums like the University of Penn Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Rodin Museum along the Parkway. Growing up in the third largest city in the U.S. at the time, I gained an appreciation of history and our heritage. Spending so much time exploring alone in the city I became aware of the great architectural elements of a colonial city that evolved into an Industrial major player during the Industrial Revolution. My ancestors were tool manufacturers in Germantown. I am a tinkerer and build lots of things from a paper storage chest, a right angle jig, to studio benches and carts. I even built a Rammed Earth Studio in 1977. Although I grew up in the city, I spent summers with my grandmother along the beach on the Jersey Shore. At least once per summer my sisters and I would go crabbing, and my grandmother would make crab cakes. I exhibited my work from the Saturday classes at the year-end shows and exhibited in 1963 at a Gimbel's city-wide competition winning an award for watercolor when I was in 9th grade. My High School teacher, William Kuchler, helped me prepare a portfolio for a competitive Board of Education Scholarship. I was awarded the scholarship at graduation along with a Gold Medal for Achievement in the Arts from Germantown Savings Banks.
I enrolled as a freshman in 1966 to the Philadelphia College of Art. After the Freshman Foundation Program, I was an Industrial Design Major until I took Ceramics as an elective. The satisfaction of creating finished functional pieces caused me to change my major to Ceramics. I was hooked! I took Ceramics classes with Bill Daley, Petras Vaskys, Paula Winokur, Julia Jackson and Roland Jahn. I have never looked back. Graduated with a BFA in 1970. In 1967 I began firing Raku that year when Paul Soldner was giving a workshop at Wallingford Art Center for local colleges...during the winter in the snow. I have been firing raku ever since, plus stoneware, soda, wood, and alternative types of firing processes. I gained a great education on building kilns while in college. This continued in graduate school where we built several kilns at students' homes including mine. I have built kilns for soda, stoneware, and raku and make architectural ceramics. I moved to the Mid-west to continuing studies in Ceramics at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with Nick Vergette and Bill Boysen graduating with an MFA in Ceramics in 1974. I had a year off when I spent 9 months as a resident potter at the Grail in Cornwall-on-Hudson building a kiln, burners and rehabbing a cabin for a pottery studio while serving as a caretaker on a fifty acre Religious estate.
Later, in 1975, I was hired to teach at Eastern Montana College, now Montana State University-Billings where I taught for 25 years. During the thirty-one years I lived in Montana, I learned to appreciate the grandeur of the mountains, the raw vivaciousness of wild horses, trout fishing, good friends, Yellowstone Park, self-reliance, hot potting (swimming in hot springs) in sub-zero weather, and all the rigors of living in the Last Best Place. One day driving home from Billings to Huntley, I passed a field of Black Angus in fresh Spring grass and immediately thought RAKU!I began making plaques with cows, sheep, asses, horses. Once when I had a group of students up in the Pryor Mountains to look for clay, we went to the top of Dryhead Overlook where we were surrounded by a herd of running wild horses with their Spring foals. Another magic Montana moment inspired me to draw running horses on Raku. A great natural event, the eruption of Mount St. Helen's provided ash for making glazes. During my tenure while teaching I was awarded 2 Fulbright Scholars' Awards during my two sabbaticals. The first was in 1985-86 where I traveled to 48 pottery centers across Spain and documented their processes and published a book of drawings on the pottery of Agost. In 1994, I went to teach at the Tashkent Institute of the Arts and study historical ceramics in Uzbekistan. Colleagues took me to ancient cities along the Silk Road including Khiva, Samarkund, and Bukhara and a remote place where I gave a talk in a high school and was the first American the students had ever seen. I retired in 2000. I have taught in University of Hawaii-Manoa and had residencies in Iceland, Latvia, Uzbekistan, The Archie Bray in Helena, MT., The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, A.I.R. Vallauris , CRETA in Rome and La Meridiana, Hui No'eau Arts Center on Maui, and Mary Anderson Center for Creative Arts in Indiana. In the 1990s I served on the Board of the Mental Health Center Foundation, helped with the annual May Clay Day Fund Raiser and volunteered teaching at the Hub, a drop-in center for Adult Mentally challenged in Billings, Montana. Also served on the Technical staff for Ceramics Monthly and as Director-at-Large for the NCECA Board.
We moved to the South border of Texas in Brownsville in 2006 so my husband, Matt, could have his dream job at a Research University. I was elected to the Board of Directors for the Potters Council in 2006, served as President in 2008 and Past-President for two more years. I worked for 8 months as the Interim Executive Director at the Brownsville Art Museum and taught an Academic year at University of Texas at Brownsville as a guest lecturer in Ceramics and Art History. While Montana provided much growth for me as an artist, I found the exotic birds of the Gulf Coast, the Coastal Sky, and the Gulf as well as the Border working their way into my art. We had a beautiful home on a Resaca, an ancient finger of the Rio Grande with lots of exotic birds, and other wildlife. I am so happy to have returned to my muse, Montana, to create in my home studio in Red Lodge, exhibit, give workshops, write, travel, and explore making marks with fire.
Below are progressive images in the development of a Cantaro made on a wheel similar to the first potters wheels found in eastern Europe and as far east as Armenia. This area was settled by the Celts. The man firing the Celtic kiln is red headed. Bag pipes can also be found in this region of NW Castile near Galicia in Spain.
Teaching ceramics at SIU-Carbondale in 1972. In 2016, I celebrate 50 years of working in ceramics.
Scenes from my Fulbright in Spain in 1985-86: Araceli decorating a Wedding Botijo with a slip applicator that uses both hands and could date back to Roman Barbotine decorating, this is the day Pepe Mollar threw 1100 mortars as seen in the background. Extreme right shows the middle chamber of a 3-story kiln being loaded with botijos.
Above are the bodies of botijos before handled and spouts are added. On the right are the clay mixing basins. Chimo delivered clay from the community pit in a mule cart.Spanish Potters: Maximo smashing clay for mixing in Bonxe in Galicia, Aniano in Alba de Tormes, and Alejandra Pastor Garcia working on a turntable wheel making a casserole with micaceous clay in Pereuela Zamora in Castile.
Joyce, Megan and I were the main crew with the help of many students and faculty who built my Rammed Earth Studio in 1977 in Huntley, MT.
My new studio in Red Lodge, Montana. Above is my slab roller and below is my wheel set up March 2017
Selsor explaining Mt. St. Helen's Ash in the glaze.Billings Gazette May 13, 1981
Above: Marci firing raku in Texas, Marci showing off Foil Saggar pots, The Diagonal Group in Barcelona for our Symposium at Etorn where we created a mural for SiO2 Ceramics Co.
Below: scenes from my three visits to Uzbekistan from 1991-1994 L-R Samarkand market in the shadow of Bebi Haneem Mosque, City snap of Khiva with an unfinished world's largest Minaret, and Marci with my Ceramics students at the Tashkent Institute of Art 1994 on my Fulbright..This photo was taken on the day we fired raku in a kiln I made for my classes.
I built a wood-fired Raku kiln up under the Rimrocks where we spent entire days firing raku at Eastern Montana College in Billings in my early days of teaching. Fastest batch we ever fired was 3 minutes by the end of the day..