About Pam Nowell
I have been a full time working Potter making ceramics, selling and teaching for over 30 years. I had just moved to Portland Maine and I knew no one. My wonderful landlady, Lisa Bonarrigo, asked if I would like to help her out by taking a wheel throwing class she was teaching. I was her first student. Lisa eventually went on to buy what is now Portland Pottery. During this time in my life, it never occurred to me at that time that I would be a working artist. Art had no presence in my life up to that point. Rural Maine in the 1970’s, where I had spent my teen age years, had a very different atmosphere. So off I went with no expectation in mind. The moment I opened that first box of clay, took in the wonderful earthy smell and squished it between my fingers, I knew this was something special! I went home that day and for the very first time in my life I declared that I wanted to be a potter. For me, it was that simple. I continued taking classes with Lisa until I moved to Nashua NH in 1986. I found the Nashua Center for the Arts and I took more classes. I found ways to learn even when I had no money for classes. I pestered people and worked hard to learn how to become a better potter. I never wavered in knowing this was the right path for me. I had an unquenchable passion for making work, being with the community of fellow dirt lovers, and finding homes for these precious, hard won pots. I loved the shared struggle to get that cylinder to raise up thin and even. In this, I discovered I also had a gift for teaching those around me. I worked, learned and taught how to make pottery, how to put on shows, how to promote myself, and how to help others do the same. It gave me great pleasure to be of service to my fellow potters, artists and musicians. I created Mudworks Pottery Studio and furthered my career, never really thinking of myself as doing so. I was looking to teach and work in my own studio. My journey as an artist has been more of discovery, curiosity and unfolded opportunities then a formal education. Most of all, I was helped by a very generous community.
I live my life with a deep love and respect for this world we live in. I realized early on I wanted to create work that was both useful and beautiful, giving beauty to the everyday living of our lives. To do that, I had to learn to know myself as an artist in order to access fully what I had to offer. In doing so, it has mapped my creative world. It takes great courage to face one’s self, to peel off the layers of what I thought was worthy based on what everyone told me was “true “. I learned that nurturing and growing who I really am brings me a sense of authenticity both in my personal life and my professional career. For me, this is not about perfection. I see perfection as an unreachable goal always just beyond my touch. This idea of perfection hinders my work. I was always left unsatisfied with what I had made.
In learning to be authentic, I discovered joy in the beauty of the moment of creation, surrender to the nature of the elements as well as accessing the co-creating qualities of a firing. I made better work and was a happy well-adjusted person. I learned being authentic in my work was what I had to bring to that table of creation. The elements have their own nature and co-creating with the elements takes presence and respect. Authenticity has brought me to loving where I am in each moment. My work reflects those qualities. Pots that work are moved onto those who are drawn to them and pots that do not work are gifts to be learned from. Each time I work in this way, I connect to a deep well of joy. In order to develop these skills of being an authentic potter, I needed an awful lot of mentoring. I have been incredibly fortunate to have had magnificent mentors in my life. Rev. Dr. Stephanie Rutt, Rev. Jan Grossman, Kevin Dadoly, John Baymore and so many more. They helped me access the inner and outer tools necessary in the process of becoming an authentic person, a better potter and a successful business woman. They are the wise ones who have gone before me, who have done the work both physically, emotionally and spiritually. Now I am able to give that back to the world.