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Oral history interview with David Shaner, 2001 June 17

Shaner, David, 1934-



Collection Information

Size: 34 Pages, Transcript

Format: Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes. Reformatted in 2010 as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 5 min.

Summary: An interview of David Shaner conducted 2001 June 17, by Gerald Williams, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Shaner's home in Bigfork, Montana.
Shaner speaks of his childhood in Pennsylvania and his parents background as pre-Revolutionary German-Swiss immigrants; his love of gardening; travels to the southwest United States, as well as Mexico and Peru; the appeal of the teapot; the spiritual aspect of making a bowl; how American craft has changed during his lifetime; his work at the Archie Bray Foundation; his education and his own teaching experiences; his "Saturday job" with Robert Turner; periodicals and their impact on the American craft movement; the calming effect of classical music while he worked; the construction of his studio space and equipment; the enthusiasm his family has for pottery and the arts in general; his involvement in the environmental movement and membership to the Sierra Club; his political views; the simplicity of his work; his opinion of writing in the field of pottery; his views on technology, especially within the field of pottery; his first one-man show; his opinion of other artists, especially those who are not "ordinary"; being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and its impact upon him; and the last few pieces he did before closing his studio. Shaner also recalls Kenneth Ferguson, Daniel Rhodes, John Wood, Peter Voulkos, Val Cushing, Ted Randall, Charles Harder and others.

Biographical/Historical Note

David Shaner (1934-2002) was a ceramist from Bigfork, Montana. Gerry Williams (1926-) is a ceramist and editor of Studio Potter from Goffstown, N.H.


This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.

Language Note

English .


Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.

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Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with David Shaner, 2001 June 17. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.