Three Potters Symposium delights ceramic enthusiasts at The Bascom

The annual Three Potters Symposium brings three of North Carolina’s best ceramics artists together each year for a day of demonstrations, discussion, and exhibition at The Bascom: A Center for the Visual Arts in Highlands.

A glimpse of this year’s annual Three Potters Symposium at The Bascom:

This year’s Symposium on June 19 featured the talents of Matt Schiemann, who demonstrated his wheel throwing process as well as decorative processes with underglazes on forms such as make pitchers, teapots, mugs, and flasks.

Also featured this year were the techniques and skills of husband-and-wife Takuro and Hitomi Shibata originally from Japan, who shared their experiences of making functional pottery with local materials such as wild clays and wood ashes, and discussed the use of hand-built wood-fired kilns used to fire their pieces.

From left are Three Potters Symposium Ceramics Artists Matt Schiemann, and Hitomi and Takuro Shibata at The Bascom: Center for the Visual Arts in Highlands.

The Bascom’s Director of Ceramics Frank Vickery said the annual Three Potters Symposium has become a popular event over the past 11 years. There are similar events around the country that bring artists together for one or multiple-day demonstrations, however some are hands on and some only demonstration.

“The Three Potters Symposium is The Bascom’s version, and it is important to the Highlands community because the three artists are masters of their material, process, and methods; and they are recognized for that regionally and in the larger national ceramic community,” he said. “The Dream Team has come to The Bascom for a weekend, and it doesn’t get much better!”

Takuro Shibata molds the top of his piece during the Three Potters Symposium.

Attendees were allowed to ask questions while the artists crafted their pieces and described the techniques they used throughout process.

“My hope is that people leave with a better understanding of process and techniques demonstrated, but also that they simply had a good time at The Bascom and will tell their friends,” said Vickery. “Programs like the Three Potters Symposium are designed to engage the community on multiple levels of creative enterprise through discussion, demonstration, and exhibition.”

Hitomi Shibata answers a question from the audience during the Three Potters Symposium.

Vickery added that artists are chosen for the Symposium based on their skill, what they make, and how that might pair nicely with another artist’s work.

Sometimes artists choose the other artists they want to present with and create a group focused on a specific topic they want to discuss or demonstrate.

Matt Schiemann puts the finishing touches on a piece created during Three Potters Symposium.

Vickery said these types of artist collaborations and group discussions are a popular method of creative expression.

Normally the Three Potters Symposium takes place in the Dave Drake Studio, has been held in a different location for the past two years due to COVID. However, the open-aired patio at The Bascom made for a sensational venue for this year’s event.

Next year’s Three Potters Symposium is currently in the planning stages and more details will be available soon.

For more information about ceramics programming at The Bascom, contact Frank Vickery at, call the studio at 828.787.2892, or click HERE.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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