Active since 1974
Richard “Dick” Cooter makes some of the most distinct work in Minnesota. He studied under master potter Warren MacKenzie before developing his uniquely loose forms and rich woodfired surfaces.
Dick mixes his own clay to a very soft consistency. This allows him to create “loose” pottery that is intentionally underworked. His work is constructed with greater thickness in order to prevent collapse on the potter’s wheel.
He’s also mastered dramatic woodfired surfaces as few have. The black side of pots are nearest the flame. His shinos display an incredible range of oranges. And when the atmosphere is just right, some of those shinos develop mirror-like surfaces.
Creating is also a family business. When you browse the studio pictures you’ll also see his wife Debbie’s handmade textiles. They display beautifully together in their showroom.
Lastly, and on a personal note, Dick & Debbie are as kind as their work is honest. Should you ever find yourself in Two Harbors, 2 1/2 hours northeast of Minneapolis, you can tour their studio, showroom, and hopefully meet the artists, too.
I fire a 125 cubic foot wood burning kiln, which I consider a partner in the work. Although I choose labor intensive methods, I consider myself a production potter. I make functional pots and consider the user the final contributer to the work. In the summer of 2009 I tore my old kiln down after about 18 years and 80 fires. I built a new two chamber woodburning kiln of my design. This kiln can be seen on a link from my web site.
Since childhood I’ve liked to make things. Over the years I’ve made houses, furniture, guitars, kilns, cars, motorcycles and many, many pots. I have worked variously as an auto mechanic carpenter, furniture maker and guitar maker as well as a potter.
I attended the University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, majored in art and studied ceramics with Warren Mackenzie and John Reeve.
The pots I make are sturdy, bold, and reflect the processes of making them. Simple decoration enhances the rich surface created by long wood fires. The traces of the artist’s hand is both an antidote and protest to increasing uniformity. Impressions made in the soft clay reveal my tie to the work and to the landscape where it is made.
A firing in Dick’s kiln was a local arts feature in this 2010 video
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