The Maine Crafts Association announces the 2014 Master Craft Artist Award Winner: Sharon Townshend, Ceramic Artist, Educator, Art and Craft Advocate

Join the celebration: Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Saturday May 10th, 7:00pm

The Maine Crafts Association, a statewide non-profit organization promoting the work of Maine’s craft artists, has named ceramic artist Sharon Townshend of Pownal, Maine as the MCA 2014 Master Craft Artist. Townshend was selected for this award equally for a career of excellence in her own craft work as well as deep contributions to public art, arts education and non-profit arts organizations in Maine. The Maine Crafts Association is proud to join the Maine Art Education Association in recognizing Townshend for her work in Maine, MAEA awarded Townshend the Maine Art Education Advocate award in 1999.

The 2014 MCA Master Craft Award process began with nominations from past award recipients, the 2014 recipient was selected by Robyn Holman, long-time director at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College Atrium Gallery and recipient of the 2010 MCA Craft Award for supporters of craft in Maine. Holman had this to say of her selection, “Sharon Townshend’s creative career spans decades of consistently exploring the medium of clay, creating works that are engaging, sublime, and inspired. In addition, her impressive teaching credentials and residencies along with a committed involvement to arts governing boards and organizations demonstrate her gift of service to the arts community. Her most recent work continues a path of connecting the natural world, beginning with drawing from life, to a translation in clay — always fresh and inspired.”

Townshend studied painting as an undergraduate at Syracuse University, and earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Wesleyan University. She has worked primarily in clay, her work often inspired by her garden, the woods, and the landscape. Of her own work, Townshend writes, “My work has always been inspired by nature, both in the free-standing terra cotta sculpture and the many public art relief murals I have made for Maine schools and libraries. When people encounter the landscape its vastness is impressive, yet it is through the human scale that we relate most directly. When I walk in the woods, I collect objects by taking mental pictures, or by picking up sticks, rocks, rusty objects — reminders of a gesture or texture. In my garden, the placement of forms, colors and gestures are more intentional; my role in creation more direct.”

Townshend’s work has been exhibited throughout Maine, the United States, China and Chile since the early 1980s. A longtime member of the Maine Crafts Association Townshend exhibited in the Maine Craft Biannual in Portland, 1984, and ‘20/20 Envision’, Maine Crafts Association’s 20th Anniversary Exhibit, Colby College, Museum of Art in 2003. She is also known for her public art commissions and has worked as a public art consultant as sites seek to commission new works meaningful and appropriate for their communities.

Sharon’s dedication to craft and arts education in Maine is evident through throughout her career as a board member for Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Museum of Glass and Ceramics, Friends of the Maine Center for Arts Education, Maine Alliance for Arts Education, Very Special Arts, The Maine Festival, The Potter’s Market and Directions, Professional Craftspeople of Maine.

Alongside serving the art, craft, and art education communities through nonprofit board work, Townshend is a founding partner of Sawyer Street Studios, a communal clay studio she began in 1988 in South Portland. Townshend and two other Maine ceramic artists, Lynn Duryea and Paul Heroux formed a partnership in 1984 when three artists were sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Boston during an annual professional ceramic conference, relishing the interaction with other potters, but feeling isolated in their rural backyard studios, the conversation resulted in Artventure. Artventure lead to the development of Sawyer Street Studios in 1988. Located in South Portland’s Ferry Village, Sawyer Street Studios houses private work spaces for the four partners as well as rental and classroom space. A long list of beginning, amateur and professional artists have occupied the various studio spaces over the years. The pottery, vessels and sculpture produced at Sawyer Street Studios varies greatly in terms of expression, working methods, firing techniques and temperatures.

In addition to a studio career, non-profit and civic work, Townshend has a long career as an arts educator both as a teacher and administrator. For more than ten yeas she served as the Arts in Education Associate at the Maine Arts Commission, writing grants, planning and managing Maine’s Arts in Education and Touring Artists Programs and served as Executive Director of the Maine Alliance for Arts Education. Townshend has taught students and art educators ceramics and other art media in higher education, continuing education, high school courses and various workshops at University of Southern Maine, University of New England, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Bates College, Santa Fe Clay, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil, University of New Hampshire, Mendocino Art Center, Phillips Academy and Waynflete School, among many others and served as the Ceramics Director for United Cerebral Palsy, Columbus, OH.

Townshend is one of Maine’s established, nationally renowned craftspeople with an extensive career in making and outreach in craft. She is being honored in the sixth year of the MCA Master Craft Award program for her excellent craftsmanship, inspired design, and the singular voice demonstrated by her body of work.

Supporters of Sharon Townshend and the Maine Crafts Association are invited to attend the award ceremony Saturday May 10th during a special reception at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. The public is invited to attend the award presentation from 7:00-8:00, which will include the award presentation, a gift of the 2014 Master Craft Artist pin made MCA Professional Member Maggie Bokor, and MCA Lifetime Membership certificate and slide show presentation of Townshend’s work.

Those interested in joining the MCA and Sharon Townshend for dinner at Haystack before the presentation, from 6:00-7:00, please rsvp to, there is $12 charge for dinner.