An interview of Paulus Berensohn conducted 2009 March 20-21, by Mark Shapiro, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Berensohn's home and studio, in Penland, North Carolina.
Berensohn speaks of growing up in New York City and his family; his brother Lorin Bernsohn, cellist with the New York Philharmonic; his problems with dyslexia as a child and yet his interest in reading and learning; an early interest in dance and the lack of support he received from his family; his admittance into Yale University, from where he quickly removed himself to attend Goddard College in Vermont; after Goddard attending Columbia University, Juilliard, and Bennington College while studying dance; studying under both Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham; his relationship with M.C. Richards; his first teaching job at Pendle Hill in Pennsylvania that lead to teaching at Swarthmore College for four years; his want to become a production potter while living on a farm in rural Pennsylvania where he created an artist commune; working with pinched pots and moving to Penland, North Carolina to teach workshops at the Penland School of Crafts; his book, "Finding Your Way With Clay," which started as a journaling and teaching project while at Penland; his interest in book art via his interest in journaling; the importance of clay as a healing material that connects humanity and the earth and his role as an advocate for clay; his work in and travels to Australia; recent photography projects and his busy and active schedule. Berensohn also recalls Remy Charlip, June Ekman, Fleur Cowles, John Cage, Robert Dunn, Yvonne Rainer, Carolyn Brown, Mary Oliver, Karen Karnes, Burt Supree, Toshiko Takaezu, Ann Stannard, Gerry Williams, George Kokis, Joe Bennion, Bill Brown, Jane Pieser, Ron Garfinkel, Jenny Mendes, Ian Anderson, Verne Stanford, Meg Peterson, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Paulus Berensohn (1933-2017) was a poet, ceramic artist, dancer, and educator in Penland, North Carolina. Mark Shapiro (1955- ) is executive director of Lumina Art Gallery, in New York.
Originally recorded on 4 SD memory cards. Reformatted in 2010 as 7 digital wav files. Duration is 4 hr., 13 min.
The Archives of American Art also holds the papers of Paulus Berensohn.
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.