Gertrude Graham Smith


Gertrude Graham Smith, nicknamed Gay, is a studio potter and teaching artist. She singles fires her porcelain ware in a soda kiln near Penland, NC. Her grant awards include a North Carolina Arts Council Visual Arts Fellowship, and Regional Artist Project Grants. She’s held artist-in-residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation and at Penland School. Her teaching credits include workshops at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Penland School, the Harvard Ceramics Studio, and the Findhorn Foundation in Northern Scotland. Her work is represented internationally. Collections include the Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC and Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan. She’s been featured in Ceramics Monthly magazine, and her work is included in numerous publications including Making Marks and Functional Pottery by Robin Hopper, Working with Clay by Susan Peterson, and many Lark series including, 100 Teapots, Vases, Cups. Gay currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Penland School.


I’m intending a reality where compassion arises in the heart when hand embraces handle.

These days, I contemplate the relevance of living as a practicing artist with the challenges we face with our planetary home. How may the work of my hands and heart be of benefit? Hopefully, working as a potter develops beneficial qualities: caring attention, commitment, honesty, courage, passion, hard work, love of beauty, and a willingness to get one’s hands dirty. Engaging in the primordial, mysterious act of creation with earth, water, fire, air, the essential raw materials of which we and the pots are made, links us with all earthly life.

Simple pottery, like cups, are made to hold and serve nourishment. Do consciously made pots carry some ineffable ability to transform and heal? What is conveyed through use or enjoyment? What may be embedded in the stone of fired clay by the alchemical bond between material, process, and person? A blessing?