Hobart Cowles

“Hobart Cowles was born in Madison, Ohio early in the roaring twenties. Madison is in northeastern Ohio, about twenty miles west of Ashtabula. Born in a predominantly farming community, he became acquainted with clay early in life. His early experiments with clay were conducted in the “crick” baked in the sun and eventually were returned to the “crick.” Providentially it was some twenty years before he learned that firing his works would make them somewhat more permanent if not necessarily more noteworthy.

“His contact and investigations of the material continued in the forties on golf courses in Ohio and on location in Texas, Wisconsin, England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, with the 76th Infantry Division. In the latter role he came literally face to face with the medium on numerous occasions. Finding study in Europe at that time somewhat difficult, he returned to his homeland and the then quiet and peaceful college campus to continue his investigations into the subject of clay. Georgia seemed to be a promising locale. In reviewing his course of study, his advisor suggested that a course in “ceramics” might be taken during an open period in his schedule. After asking what “ceramics” meant, he elected to take the course and thus he slipped into a B.F.A. in ceramics in 1949. Returning to his native Ohio, he earned a M.A. in ceramics from Ohio State University in 1950.

“In 1951 he was permitted to join the faculty of the School for American Craftsmen, presumably because he was an American. Due to the excellence of his fellow faculty and a steady stream of remarkably talented students, he has been able to retain this position.

“Despite the discriminating and untiring efforts of juries and selection committees, his work has been shown in the Syracuse Ceramic National, Syracuse Regional, Rochester Finger Lakes Exhibition, the Brussels World’s Fair, the New York State Exposition, the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, the York State Craft Fair and several others which it might be best not to mention.

“The most extensive collections of his work are owned by his mother, his wife, Barbara, and The Three Crowns in Pittsford, New York. The latter, being a retail outlet, is attempting to reduce the size of its collection. Although there is a generous lack of appreciation for his work in this country, it is recognized in Turkey, Korea, Viet Nam, the Philippines and japan; at least by former students from those countries. He has executed works on commission for several churches and individuals in the Rochester area indicating the benevolent and forgiving attitude of such individuals and institutions. Another benevolent and forgiving group have for some years sponsored and encouraged him in his work: his wife, Barbara, and his children Judy, Becky, Jon, Meg and Dave.”