Gerry Williams ’42

alumni_williams2005 Gerry Williams ’42


Gerry Williams has been recognised for excellence in his field, his original research on ceramic techniques called wet fire and photo resist, and his contributions to the art of wheel-thrown and slab-built pottery both nationally and internationally.


Gerry was born in Asansol, Bengal. He began at Woodstock in 1937, graduating in 1942. After leaving India in 1943, he attended Cornell College in Iowa for a year before being drafted as a conscientious objector in New York City. He was later jailed for refusing to re-register for the draft prior to the Korean War. He went to New Hampshire in 1950 to study pottery at the League of Arts and Crafts and became an independent craftsman.


He lived with his wife, Julie, in northeastern United States, where he was an independent, self-supporting artist, and founder and editor of Studio Potter magazine, a publication with a world-wide readership. For over forty years, Gerry produced wheel-thrown and slab-built pottery, fired in high-temperature gas and wood kilns in his own studio. His work included architectural forms and commissioned wall plaques. He did original research on the ceramic techniques of wet fire and photo resist, and published papers on them. He had many one-man exhibitions in museums and art centres in the US and abroad, including The American Craft Museum in New York City, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the US State Department Traveling Museum in London, and the US State Department Traveling Exhibition in Europe and Africa.

Having taught at many colleges, including Dartmouth College, Willimantic State College, Haystack School of Crafts, Penland School of Crafts, NY State College at Cortland, and the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, Hobart, Australia, Gerry also conducted workshops throughout the eastern US and Canada, and lectured in Austria, Japan and India. He contributed to symposia in Finland and Australia, and was a panel member for the National Endowment for Arts in Washington, DC. Co-founder of the Phoenix Workshops, a summer school, Gerry was also the originator of the first national conference on apprenticeship, and he spoke on the subject at World Craft Conferences in Kyoto, Japan, and Vienna, Austria. In 1976 he was the subject of a film called An American Potter, produced by Charles Musser, the Yale film historian.

He was a trustee emeritus of Haystack School, and was on the Board of Advisors for the Appalachian Craft Center, Tennessee. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts from Notre Dame College, Manchester, NH, and an Honorary Doctor of Arts from his alma mater, Cornell College. He was elected a Fellow of the American Craft Council, from which he received a gold medal, an honorary member of the National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts, and a member of the International Academy of Ceramics, Geneva, Switzerland. In 1998 he was designated the first Artist Laureate of New Hampshire.

Gerry passed away in New Hampshire in August, 2014.