Professional-personal biography.
Three international artists' correspondence.
Rich photographic and written journal by the Fairbanks, potter and painter.

museum of northwest art

La Conner, Washington
Touring Exhibition

Saturday, July 4th through Thursday, September 24th, 2015
featuring original Richard Fairbanks ceramics
and collages by Dixie Parker-Fairbanks inspired by her husband's art.

The exhibit also features a retrospective group of 50 of Richard's original ceramics
accepted int MoNA's permanent collection,
November 2014.


513 South Main Street, Seattle

introductory exhibition of
select 28 x 22 mixed media collages
by dixie parker-fairbanks
featuring Richard Fairbanks ceramics

more images on art gallery page




in Ballard (north Seattle)

MARCH 4 to May 22, 2011

Photographs on EVENTS page.

Related book available at the museum or here on the PUBLICATIONS page.

now available
please see the publication page
for ordering

Soft cover, 8 1/​2 x 11, 178 pages, 41 full color plates
published by the

Essays by:
Dixie Parker-Fairbanks on Richard's connection to Finland and the Arabia factory.
Professor Emeritus Val Cushing on his association with Professor Kyllikki Salmenhaara
and a history of Alfred University's graduate ceramic department.

Preface by:
Eric Nelson, Executive Director,
Janet S, Rauscher, Chief Curator
Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle

Featured photographs include 41 full color plates of Richard Fairbank's restored 1960 Arabia ceramics
and nine full page images of Professor Cushings ceramics from that era.

Also, are Richard's images of Kyllikki Salmenhaara's most important ceramics
at the height of her career, during one of the most significant periods of 20th-century crafts.

Additionally are excepts from Fairbanks' Helsinki journal
providing a rare record of the Arabia ceramic department
and his professional and personal relationships with a number of the great Finnish ceramic artists
including Kaj Franck and Oiva Toikka.

Fairbanks photographed by Salmenhaara in his Arabia factory studio.

The young Drake University professor was awarded a Fulbright grant to Finland in 1959
to study at Taideteolliunen Oppilatos (The Institute of Industrial Arts) and
invited to be a guest artist at the OY Wärtsilä-Arabia manufacturing firm.

After creating 150 ceramics, with limited finances he shipped only 50 pieces home.

This recovered photographic treasure is the only record of his missing Arabia work.

Cushing with his Alfred University students.

Professor, Emeritus Cushing and Professor Kyllikki Salmenhaara first met while he was a graduate ceramic student at
Alfred University in New York, in 1956.

When the Finnish potter returned years later as a guest professor,
Cushing was then teaching in Alfred's graduate ceramic department.

Professor Cushing remains productive in his studio, exhibiting and lecturing widely
as a highly recognized leader in his field.

It would be an honor for me to be associated with these two artists.
They are both gone but their work lives on and remains powerful examples of what can be achieved
when artists combine experience and mastery of skills and techniques with creativity,
imagination and a clear philosophic point of view.

How I wish the three of us could meet and talk together and share the love we all have for what we do.
An exhibition of our work in the same space would be a conversation between us and one,
I believe, others would understand and enjoy.

Val Cushing
(to Dixie Parker-Fairbanks)
June 29, 2005

Salmenhaara photographed by Fairbanks in her Arabia factory studio.

A dynamic Arabia potter when Fairbanks met her in 1959,
she became one of the most honored artist-educators of Scandinavia’s Golden Age of Crafts.

A mentor and friend to Fairbanks, after her period at Arabia ended, she traveled abroad for research and teaching,
completing her career at the University of Industrial Arts in Helsinki (UIAH).


In her 1999 Introduction to “Essential Passions, Fairbanks-Salmenhaara Letters 1959-1986,”
Margaret Carney, Ph.D, Director, International Museum of Ceramic Art at
Alfred, New York wrote;

Essential Passions” celebrates a friendship spanning nearly three decades,
linking two remarkable potters who remained connected despite
the oceans, miles, years and cultures separating them.

Our project highlights these important cultural links between
three remarkable craftsmen and those who followed
and benefited from that early association.

FINNISH MILK PAIL C/4 reduction stoneware with chamotte, tan gloss glaze 11 x 7 1/2 inches produced at Arabia, 1960 Richard Fairbanks

PITCHER stoneware, GF reduction, blue-grey matte glaze with incised drawing underneath, 10 1/2 x 6 inches 1970 Val Cushing

FOOTED VASE stoneware with chamotte, 10 x 7 inches Arabia, 1960 Kyllikki Salmenhaara

Fairbanks's Arabia studio overlooking the bay, Helsinki, Finland 1959-1960

Example of restoration of Richard Fairbank's 1960 recovered Arabia slides.

Fairbanks's unrestored tower jar slide, 1960

Windmill Tower Jar, stoneware, 1960 Richard Fairbanks 2006 restoration by photographer Mitchell D. Cohen, Northbrook, Illinois