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.
On negative edge: "50585 Mrs. Doris Patterson 8 - groups - 1 glossy." Mrs. Patterson was probably the teacher. Some pencil retouching on faces and legs, red New Coccine on one girl's arm. Ansco Safety Film edge imprint.
A ProQuest search located a Dec. 17, 1947 Washington Post advertisement (p. 12) for the "Doris N. Patterson School of Dance 'for / colored' [sic] / 4126 [or 4125?] Minnesota Ave., N.E. VL 1786 / Annex Elks Home 1535 15th St. N.w. (3rd floor) / Courses for Children, Adults and Teachers in Russian Ballet, Toe, Creative, / Tap, Spanish, Acrobatic and Ballroom. Transportation furnished. Phone for / appointment."
Reproduction photograph exhibited in "The Scurlock Studio and Black Washington: Picturing the Promise" held in NMAAHC Gallery, NMAH, Jan. 30-Nov. 15, 2009; also reproduced in companion book to this exhibit.
Collection is open for research.
Series 8: Business Records, Subseries 8.1: Studio Session Registers are restricted. Digital copies available for research. See repository for details.
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs and negatives. Special arrangements required to view negatives due to cold storage. Using negatives requires a three hour waiting period. Contact the Archives Center at 202-633-3270.
When the Museum purchased the collection from the Estate of Robert S. Scurlock, it obtained all rights, including copyright. The earliest photographs in the collection are in the public domain because their term of copyright has expired. The Archives Center will control copyright and the use of the collection for reproduction purposes, which will be handled in accordance with its standard reproduction policy guidelines. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Photographs -- 1940-1950 -- Black-and-white negatives -- Acetate film
Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History. Smithsonian Institution
The collection was acquired with assistance from the Eugene Meyer Foundation. Elihu and Susan Rose and the Save America's Treasures program, provided funds to stabilize, organize, store, and create digital surrogates of some of the negatives. Processing and encoding funded by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.