Art Beat: Art you can use
For Julie Devers, pottery has become a lifelong love affair with roots that reach back to Ireland. From ceramic bowls, mugs, tumblers, and teapots, to serving bowls, dinnerware, and more, Devers is known for her quiet, simple designs. Her creations in clay are not only about beauty, but also functionality. Devers has taught ceramics at the Kirk Newman Art School at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts since 2001. Her home studio in Gobles, Michigan, is called Newgrange Pottery.
“I was in college, and I was a design major,” Devers says. “I studied in Ireland for my sophomore year. I came back, as any 19-year-old, looking for where my heart was and where my creative direction was. I didn’t feel it was in the design studio. I was in a ceramics course at the time, and I think the choice was not just about the medium I wanted to follow through with, but more about the life I wanted to create for myself.”
Devers envisioned herself living in the country with her own studio and making pots. Over a lifetime of pursuing perfection in pottery—and teaching to others—Devers’ vision became reality. She named her home studio Newgrange after the ancient site in Ireland where some of her family had lived, and still do.
In her teaching at the KIA, Devers imparts the lesson of repetition.
“Pottery is very process-oriented,” she says. “If you enjoy going through all those steps and all those stages, you’re perfect for being a potter. You might make a whole board full of mugs. You might make all those handles for all those mugs. You might glaze all those mugs. It’s about that repetition. As a teacher, I instruct my students: ‘You won’t get it until you make x-number of these. If you make 20 mugs, you’ll start to understand it.’ It’s about that process and it’s about that repetition.”
Julie Devers is a graduate of Notre Dame University and has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Montana.
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