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Art Beat: A multitude of rabbits

Valerie Bungart
Troy Bungart Studios
Troy Bungart and one of his whimsical rabbit mugs.
Troy Bungart
Troy Bungart Studios
A bunny bowl by Troy Bungart

The first thing you will notice when viewing the pottery created by Troy Bungart of Troy Bungart Studios in Three Rivers, Michigan, is a multitude of rabbits. Tiny rabbits appear on coffee mugs, ceramic basket handles, bowls and incense trays. The rabbits point to the element of fun that Bungart enjoys instilling into his work. Bungart not only creates beautiful pottery – he creates the tools that are used in the craft.

“Oh, the rabbits,” Bungart says. “That’s really been a kind of discovery thing for me, trying to figure out what those are about. The thing I can say most about it is that I have raised rabbits for more years than I haven’t. My kids have raised rabbits for 4-H, I’ve had meat rabbits, I’ve had pet rabbits, I’ve had rabbits running wild about my property. I’ve just always enjoyed rabbits.”

Bungart has three studios for his product lines: a pottery studio, a woodshop for pottery tools, and a mixed media studio for his handmade paintbrushes. He began his art career carving wood, then as a painter, but has increasingly moved toward pottery and the making of pottery tools.

“From as early as I can remember, I have been allowed to carve with a pocketknife,” Bungart says. “As early as five or six. I would carve little animals from blocks of wood my dad would get for me. Then I graduated from the crayons to watercolors pretty early … I still enjoy watercolors a lot. I prefer a more whimsical, primitive style of painting than the studious, traditional watercolor styles.”

A conversation with Troy Bungart

He began to make pottery tools and paintbrushes when he couldn’t find what he needed to create his pottery and other artwork. Bungart grows his own bamboo that he harvests to make some of those tools.

“I wanted to give [the tools] the same feeling and attention to detail as I would any of my other artwork,” Bungart says. “I wanted to treat them like art and make them beautiful to look at, beautiful to hold, and oh by the way—they function.”

Bungart also offers workshops on how to make paintbrushes and tools. He has traveled worldwide to teach others his art skills, although less so during the Covid pandemic. Bungart’s pottery and tools are available at Schaller Gallery in Baroda, MI as well as on his Etsy shop.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.