Kalamazoo Valley Potters
In 1988 Francis Granzotto, head of the ceramics department at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, recognized the need for students to have an opportunity to display their creativity to the public and at the same time demonstrate the positive effect that the institution had on the community. He helped a small group of his most dedicated students form a club called Valley Artists, which organized an annual pottery show and sale held the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday on the KVCC campus. A portion of sales, in addition to other funds collected by the club, were used to finance field trips, bring in nationally-renowned artists for demonstrations, and purchase tools, supplies, and equipment for the classroom. These activities served to expand the knowledge of pottery making, generated interest in the program, and were open to all ceramics students at KVCC.
Over time the name of the group shifted to Cone 10 Potters (a reference to firing temperature measurement used in kilns), then its final incarnation--as both a nod to its history and eye to its future, by opening membership from the focus of a single institution to potters from the greater Kalamazoo area--Kalamazoo Valley Potters. The membership of KVP is made up of ceramics artists from a variety of backgrounds--including a half dozen who remain from its origins at KVCC, potters with ties to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Western Michigan University, as well as private studios and other educational institutions--years of experience, and styles of working in clay.
Mirroring the years of shifting membership, waxing and waning, inherent in a student group, the annual show changed venue from the KVCC campus to public spaces closer to downtown Kalamazoo, most recently the Kalamazoo Expo Center at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds. Following the tradition established in 1988, the Holiday Art Sale is always scheduled for the weekend before Thanksgiving, a popular fixture during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and has expanded to include artisans working in media other than clay, long-partnering with multimedia group Art, Etc, and relationships over the years with The Paper Guild and Weavers Guild of Kalamazoo.
The Kalamazoo Valley Potters started as a group grounded in education and creating a community of potters and those roots still support us. As we thoughtfully and deliberately grow the organization, we do so with our Mission Statement in mind:
Kalamazoo Valley Potters is an organization supporting ceramic arts and ceramic artists in the Kalamazoo River Valley and southwest Michigan by
Providing/organizing opportunities for exhibits and sales that include the work of our members and allow enthusiasts of handmade pottery to discover local ceramic artists
Providing technical and advisory help to our members
Provide a cooperative, respectful, and supportive atmosphere of camaraderie and networking for our members