Studio Conversations: Claudia Dunaway And John D. Richards

Claudia and John work on a collaborative project at Yummy Mud Puddle.
Claudia and John work on a collaborative project at Yummy Mud Puddle.

Yummy Mud Puddle

There are many paths which lead people to settle in the mountains of western North Carolina. For Claudia Dunaway the move to Burnsville was a sort of homecoming. She grew up in Reidsville, NC and has fond memories of visiting the mountains in her childhood. For her husband, John Richards – home is where Claudia is (and, of course, he fell in love with the amazing natural beauty of the area and the thriving arts community). The artists (Claudia is a potter and John is a sculptor) form Yummy Mud Puddle – the site of two studios and one gorgeous view. Claudia creates hand thrown stoneware and porcelain fired in a gas reduction kiln. John works with mixed media and found objects to make sculptures, lamps, and jewelry.

Claudia and John moved to Yancey County in 2003. By 2005 they were both members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. John recalls visiting the area before the move and one of the places which resonated with him, assuring him this was the right place for them was the Folk Art Center. He appreciated Allanstand Craft Shop and the exhibition galleries and their obvious support of regional craftspeople. Their work is now represented at the Folk Art CenterGuild CraftsParkway Craft Center and Arrowcraft.

Claudia’s attachment to the Guild was formed years earlier. Her mother was a lifelong advocate of the arts and took Claudia year after year to Guild fairs – in Gatlinburg and later in Asheville. She grew up wanting to be a member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. After her graduation from UNC – Greensboro she studied under legendary potter and SHCG member Charles Counts at Rising Fawn in Georgia.

Claudia and John have been blown away by the inspiring and supportive community in Yancey and Mitchell County. With its close proximity to Penland, the area is a mecca for talented craftspeople. The couple (who have each lived in several other art towns) notes that it is like no other place on earth – not only the quality of work being made but the amazing support that is provided by other artists and area galleries. They are both involved with the Toe River Arts Council and regularly participate in the TRAC studio tours. Claudia also regularly exhibits at the Spruce Pine Potters Market. She also plans to exhibit at the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands, perhaps in October 2012.

Spending time at Yummy Mud Puddle is an opportunity to see a couple creating not only art, but living life as an artful collaboration. As business partners they share responsibilities. For example, Claudia handles the online elements and computer-related aspects of their work, and John makes regular trips to galleries to deliver work and check in with buyers. As artists they bounce ideas off one another and occasionally collaborate for exhibitions. They enjoy their lifestyle, living moment to moment, embracing the risks and solitude afforded craftspeople, and making up their own rules as they go along.


W.B. Tatter Artists' Reception

John and Claudia will be participating in an exhibition of their work at
W.B. Tatter Studio/Gallery in St. Augustine, FL.
Artists' Reception
Saturday, January 28, 5 - 9pm

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