Oral history interview with Kurt Weiser, 2006 May 22
Weiser, Kurt D., 1950-
Held, Peter, 1951-
Archie Bray Foundation
Interlochen Arts Academy (Interlochen, Mich.)
Kansas City Art Institute
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Place of publication, production, or execution:
Transcript: 47 pages.
Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes. Reformated in 2010 as 3 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 17 min.
An interview of Kurt Weiser conducted 2006 May 22, by Peter Held, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at the artist's studio, in Tempe, Arizona.
Weiser speaks of growing up in East Lansing, Michigan, near the Kresge Art Center at Michigan State University; his mother's encouragement of his interest in the arts; dropping out of high school in the ninth grade and working odd jobs until enrolling at Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan; teaching himself firing techniques with Hal Reigger's book, "Primitive Pottery"; his relationship with his first ceramics teacher, Jean Parsons; and going to Kansas City Art Institute and meeting Ken Ferguson.
He discusses teaching in Portland after undergraduate school, first in the city at Portland Museum Art School, then in Marlyhurst; his studio at Hillside Center; selling pottery at the Ann Arbor Street Fair; attending graduate school at the University of Michigan and earning his M.F.A.; meeting Akio Takamori on a visit back to Kansas City Art Institute; his first experience at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Mont.; and inviting international residents such as Suwanee Natewong to teach at the Bray.
He also covers his travels to Japan and Thailand; the drawings and sketches he did while abroad, and how these drawings inspired his black and white graffito-style pottery; his interests of natural and psychological subject matter; his use of color and inspirational artists such as Maxfield Parrish and Henri Rousseau; his methods for creating imagery; his teaching position at Arizona State University in Tempe; his opinions about the roles of the universities in art education, and of craft periodicals such as American Craft; his time at Guldagergard in Skaelskor, Denmark; and his involvement with National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.
Weiser also recalls Victor Babu, Rick Hensley, Tom Coleman, Jackie Rice, John Stevenson, Ed Labow, and others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Kurt Weiser, 2006 May 22. 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.
Kurt Weiser (1950- ) is an artist and educator from Tempe, Arizona. Peter Held (1951- ) is a curator from Chandler, Arizona.
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