Maria Root

Primitiva Pottery & Tile

I love form and texture. Drawn to the energy inherent in earth, water, and fire, I naturally befriended clay early in my life. By high school, I took summer school art classes. With my mother during the school year, I enrolled in adult education classes to increase my exposure to clay and learning of basic techniques.

Subsequently, I went to a university with no art department, but they did have the ceramics ‘Pot Shop” where I spent most of my time. I ended up supplementing my income selling pottery at our quarterly sales. After completing my undergraduate degree, I set up my first studio complete with my potter’s wheel (which I still use) in our tiny apartment’s outdoor 3 x 4 foot utility closet in Southern California. I dried my pots on the cement patio outside its door. My cat used the ‘Goldilocks technique’ to find the right leather hard bowl for a cool nest. Since then, I have always had a studio cat complete with its own studio quirks.

Continuing to graduate school, I made time to take studio classes. I worked as a clinical psychologist for over 30 years. With my first publication royalties, I purchased my first kiln. Subsequent book royalties developed my studio over the years. I have taken multiple classes in each technique I wanted to master: throwing, extruding, sculpting, mold making, and glazing. Most recently, intent on creating image transfers of my drawings, I took 30 hours of instruction in screen printing.

My signature look comes from combining textures and forms inspired by nature. For almost 50 years, I converse with each piece of clay before I start to form it-–thus begins a critical exchange of energy with my clay that subtly influences the outcome of each piece. My canvas begins as a thrown form or a flat slab. From there, I shape the clay by many different means (throwing, paddling, pinching, stretching, kneading…) to coax it into its final shape. I especially love to carve and gently sculpt my pieces, touching every bit of clay. No doubt part of my love of making a piece goes with it to its new home. Nature’s greens and browns are abundant on Orcas Island. I punctuate this palette with colors inspired by oceans and flowers. My pieces are meant to be touched, held, and used.

Maria P. P. Root is an award winning potter and ceramic artist. She was the first woman director of the University of California Riverside’s ‘Pot Shop.’ She lives with her husband, two cats, and four turtles.