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Richard Fairbanks American Potter Foundation

Dedicated to preserving the ceramics
and teaching archive of the late Pacific Northwest professor
as a public and educational resource.

Richard loading one of his bottles
in the Central Washington University Alpine kiln, 1960's

It is essential that the Fairbanks Collection
and its archives are available to those who love functional art.
It can have the same powerful effect on the young aspiring
student-artist that this medium had on Richard Fairbanks.

Jack G. Curtright, Foundation President

a 501 c 3 nonprofit corporation


President, Jack Curtright
First Vice President, Madalon Lalley
Second Vice President, Mark Hestor
Executive Advisor, E. Norman Westerberg
Executive Advisor, Rita Vermala-Koski
Executive Secretary/Curator, Dixie Parker-Fairbanks
Secretary, Kathleen Westley-Ringer

Richard decorating a folk art influenced plate, Ellensburg 1980's


In 1989 Central Washington University requested a posthumous ceramic exhibit of their art professor, Richard Fairbanks.

Previously unknown to Seattle art critic Matthew Kangas, once he surveyed the remarkable ceramics of Fairbanks, he offered to curate the show, organize an international ceramics symposium. and write his first book, Richard Fairbanks, American Potter, published in 1993 and successfully distributed internationally by the University of Washington Press.

Following those accomplishments, President Donald Garrity lent the help of CWU's Foundation, Art, International Studies, Alumni, Graduate, and Publicity departments to continue bringing recognition to the Pacific Northwest potter. City leaders and sixty dedicated people from Ellensburg and Yakima lent their help by organizing fund-raising events to underwrite expenses for the RF biography, and the Finland and Japan exhibits, with expenses shared by the institutions of the host countries.

Chief Curator Marianne Aav, of Finland's National Museum of Applied Arts, and Director Marjut Kumela, of the Arabia Museum in Helsinki, each came to assess the collection and later returned as keynote speakers in RF exhibits in this country, as did officials from Sanda, Japan.

In 1992-93 the Bellevue and Tacoma Art Museums held RF exhibits with Seattle's Nordic Heritage Museum mounting the comprehensive Richard Fairbanks Retrospective in 1995. Prestigious museums in the US, most notably the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, and Finland and Japan, now own major Fairbanks ceramics (as noted on our "home" page).

In 1996, because of her effort on her late husband's behalf, Dixie Parker-Fairbanks was invited to deliver a paper at the Networks in Ceramics '96 International Conference, held at Helsinki's University of Art and Design. At that time Essential Passions, Fairbanks-Salmenhaara Letters was envisioned. With demands escalating, in 1999 she relocated her home, studio and the ceramic collection to the Seattle area for greater access to art and publication possibilities. Essential Passions was published that year with Silent Sunflowers, A Balkan Memoir following in 2000.

In 2005, a group of supportive friends and colleagues came together again to continue the work of the Ellensburg/Yakima Fairbanks committee by establishing our nonprofit Richard Fairbanks American Potter Foundation receiving our nonprofit status, and a generous grant from the Finland Foundation National shortly thereafter.

The first major project the RF foundation has undertaken has been the restoration of Richard's rare 1960 Arabia slides that led to the development of the "Vessels of the Heart" publication and related exhibition.

Director Marjut Kumela and Dixie Parker-Fairbanks
at the permanent installation of Richard's ceramics.
Arabia Museum, Helsinki 1996


2009 Vessels of the Heart published, authors Dixie Parkeroo-Fairbanks, Val Cushing

2005 Richard Fairbanks American Potter Foundation established

2004 Springtime in Winter (Dixie Parker-Fairbanks memoir publication pending.)

2003 Richard Fairbanks ceramics, Dixie Parker-Fairbanks paintings,
Foster/White Gallery, Kirkland

2002 Author's Guild membership, Dixie Parker-Fairbanks

2000 Silent Sunflowers,A Balkan Memoir published
author Dixie Parker-Fairbanks
University of Washington Press

2000 Something Lost, Something Found
Ceramics: Art and Perception article
author Dixie Parker-Farbanks

1999 Essential Passions FairbanksSalmenhaara Letters published,
author Dixie Parker-Fairbanks
University of Washington Press

1996 International Conference Networks in Ceramics'96
University of Art and Design, Helsinki
Parker-Fairbanks paper:
Speaking for Richard Fairbanks: Past, Present and Future.

1995 Richard Fairbanks and Dixie Parker-Fairbanks Exhibit
Sanda, Japan

1995 Richard Fairbanks Retrospective
Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle, Washington

1994 Richard Fairbanks, American Potter Exhibit
Arabia Museum, Helsinki, Finland

1994 RICHARD FAIRBANKS, 'Thirty Years: A Selection',
Cale Kinne, curator
Foster/White Gallery, Kirkland

1993 Richard Fairbanks, American Potter published
author Matthew Kangas
University of Washington Press, Seattle

1993 Richard Fairbanks, 'Vessels in Clay,
Cale Kinne, curator, Foster/White Gallery, Kirkland

1992 Richard Fairbanks, American Potter,
Sarah Spurgeon Gallery, Matthew Kangas, curator,
Central Washington University

1992 Functional Pottery: Past, Present, Future, International Ceramics Symposium,
Sarah Spurgeon Gallery, Central Washington University

Craft and Concept: The Rematerialization of the Art Object
author Matthew Kangas
Midmarch Press, New York
460 pp. ISBN 1-87765-58

This book contains an extensive chapter on Richard Fairbanks. The author also includes a section on the powerful US contemporary glass movement based in Seattle. In his chapter on glass artist Benjamin Moore Kangas writes:

The Italian influence on American studio glass is one of the most significant cross-cultural exchanges of the past century. Benjamin Moore-glass blower, designer, ex-Pilchuck [Glass School] creative and educational director–has been in the forefront of the Murano-Pilchuck interchange of ideas, techniques, and talent. After Dale Chihuly and Richard Marquis, Moore was the third man to have an impact on Venice and the only one to speak fluent Italian…his ceramic studies with Richard Fairbanks at Central Washington University were significant..
Kangas reveals that prominent Seattle glass artist, William Morris and his long time collaborator, Jon Ormbreck, also studied with Richard at Central Washington University, further attesting to Richard’s importance as a leading educator.