Oral history interview with Richard Ritter, 2005 August 2
Ritter, Richard Q., 1940-
Byrd, Joan Falconer, 1939-
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcript: 93 pages.
Originally recorded on 3 sound discs. Reformated in 2010 as 5 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 9 min.
An interview of Richard Ritter and his wife Jan Williams conducted 2005 August 2, by Joan Falconer Byrd, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at the Ritter Glass Studio, in Bakersville, N.C.
Ritter speaks of his family and his childhood in Novi, Michigan, and life on an 11-acre farm; his education at Northville High School and The Center for Creative Studies; various jobs at the Bloomfield Art Association, in Michigan, and advertising studios; his artist-in-residence position at the Penland School of Crafts, in Penland, N.C.; his experiences with the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Yaw Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan the American Crafts Gallery, Detroit, Michigan, the Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, Michigan, and the Heller Gallery, New York, N.Y.; about his works of art, including his Florescence series (1997-2001), Grail series (1993-1994), Family Portrait (1976), Kaete Vase (1976), and the Floral Core series (2001-present); his studios in Cass City, Michigan, and in Bakersville, N.C.; his symbiotic working relationship with wife, Jan Williams; their children: Richie, Kaete, and William; his working processes and his use of murrinis; Joan Mondale's commissioning of his work for the vice-presidential home as part of a larger commissioning of American art in the late 1970s; and his appearance on the cover of American Craft magazine in 1996. Williams speaks of her childhood on a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania; her education at the University of Delaware, the Philadelphia College of Art, and the Penland School of Crafts; her family's travels to Europe and Egypt; her early interest in ceramics; her skill at sandblasting; and the inspiration for her pieces, including Cass City Cows. Both recall Gil Johson, Mark Peiser, Dominick Labino, Bill Brown, Richard Marquis, John Murphy, Wayne Bates, Ed Eberly, Petras Vaskeys, Roland Jahn, Flo Perkins, George Thiewes, Sam Pucci, Bill Warmus, Simone Travisano, Susan Clausen, David Naito, Paul Stankard, Fritz Dreisbach, Jean Sosin, Joan Mondale, and others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Richard Ritter, 2005 August 2. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Richard Ritter (1940- ) is a glass artist from Michigan. Joan Falconer Byrd (1939- ) is a professor of Art at Western Carolina University and is originally from Cardiff, Wales.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001