“Art is a disease. There is no cure for it.”
This quote sums up the life of Charles counts. Art “infected” Charles as a school boy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and became his way of life. He was the epitome of the Renaissance man, practicing various desciplines such as quilting, weaving, rug hooking, drawing, painting, philosophy, poetry and intellectual thinking. However, he became most well known for his pottery and teaching. Counts worked hard to be a part of the Appallacian heritage of craftsmen who made objects by hand.
Charles Count studied at various places including Berea College and Southern Illinois University at Carondale where he acquired an MFA in Ceramics and Weaving. Charles apprenticed for Marguerite Wildenhain, a professor who studied at the Bauhaus School of Design in Germany. It was under her tutelage, Counts learned that art and craft are really two halves to a whole, that craft is the origination of any art from, and functionality of the object and simple design are the goal of any true artist. Counts also learned that an artist must master the fundamental elements of shape and form before being creative and that there is a spiritual connection between an artist and nature.
After training Counts moved back to Tennessee to open his first studio near Knoxville between 1958 and 1962. Counts found inspiration and strength in the flora and fauna of the natural world. Repeated natural motifs in his work such as trees, mountains and the sun reflect his belief of something spiritual in nature and in all things that grow.
Since 1956, Charles counts was a member and avid supporter of the Southern Highland Craft Guild whose mission it is to keep alive the Appalachian tradition of making traditional and contemporary arts and crafts by hand. His legacy resides in the hundreds of students he taught and influenced. The admiration he felt when he first saw the hand work of the mountain potters of Kentucky, Georgia and North Carolina continued to propel him through life, challenging him always to make a better pot than the last one.
Information on Charles Counts courtesy of Southern Highland Craft Guild