Art Blog

Ceramic artist Autumn Higgins grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was raised in Portland, Oregon. She was born into a family of artists with a painter mother and grandparents who spent over 50 years working in ceramics. These strong creative influences helped to mold her into the creative producer she is today. 

Autumn began her studies at Southern Oregon University in 2004, and apprenticed with French potter Jean-Nicolas Gerard in Valensole, France. Her long days in the studio there helped to hone her technical skills and provided her with the opportunity to develop a unique style. She then earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Louisiana State University in 2011 and was awarded the Fogelberg Studio Fellowship at Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis. She is now based there as a teacher and studio artist. 

Autumn's style involves functional vessels in porcelain with designs she draws directly onto the surface. While in Sedona, Autumn will take her work out into the landscape in a more direct way, as a kind of plein air process. Her Sedona vessels will mimic the landscape in shape, and feature her take on cacti, rock formations, Verde Valley School buildings, and newly discovered swimming holes.

“Sedona has a long and diverse tradition of pottery, and the craftsmanship of clay objects,” said Sedona Arts Center executive director Eric Holowacz,” We wanted to invite a few very talented emerging ceramic artists to contribute to the Summer Colony and introduce their ideas and creative work to our community." 

Joining Autumn Higgins at the Sedona Summer Colony is fellow potter and studio partner Elizabeth Pechacek, also a ceramicist from Minneapolis. Raised in Indianapolis, Liz grew up with an artist mother and chemist father and earned her BFA in ceramics and BA in Art History from Indiana University in 2012. She teaches at Powderhorn Park and shows in various galleries across the nation. 

Elizabeth’s work is predominantly handbuilt or slip cast from handbuilt prototypes—and she prides herself in being primarily concerned with creating meaningful objects. Layered with slip (a liquid mixture or slurry of clay and/or other materials suspended in water), stains and glaze, her work achieves a rich and complex surface. A diverse range of historical sources, such as Mimbres and Neolithic Chinese pottery, heavily influences the work she is creating at Sedona Summer Colony. 

“I want to push the vessel nature of the work I do, the actual object of pottery, into a more sculptural format while at Verde Valley School,” she said, “I’ll be gaining inspiration from these new surroundings and playing with abstract motifs, and trying new things that might advance my own creative practice.”

Higgins and Pechacek are two of over 100 visiting artists who are spending some of their summer as part of the inaugural Sedona Summer Colony. The program is a joint partnership between Sedona Arts Center and Verde Valley School, and provides time, space, and connection to our environment. It is being developed, with input and participation by hundreds of local supporters and community members, as America’s next great residency program for creative people and cultural managers. The public is invited to bring a dish, meet the artists, and share a meal at the upcoming Community Potluck Dinner, on Sunday, July 10 at 5pm in the Verde Valley School Dining Hall.

About the Sedona Summer Colony

From late June to early August, over 125 invited artists-in-residence will be guests at Verde Valley School—provided with housing, meals, excursions, and support for their creative projects. Some of America's most interesting creative producers will interact with Sedona and connect with our community and its undeniable sense of place. We bring them together knowing that other great ideas began in a small, local way. Places like MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Chautauqua, and the Aspen Institutehave all inspired our vision—and our clever plan to position Sedona as a place for diverse, interesting, and significant 21st century cultural production. Eric Holowacz, Executive Director of Sedona Arts Center and Paul Amadio, Head of Verde Valley School are the co-founders of the Sedona Summer Colony.