As a young art student, she imagined what pot-making and art must be like in “Africa” and then pursued that vision throughout undergraduate school. Her early ceramics classes emphasized pottery from Asia. This led Winnie to pose a new question. “What about African ceramics? If the oldest known humans are from Africa, they must have been making pots. They had to eat, they had to cook, they had to store food. I knew there had to be ceramics there.”
Winnie Owens-Hart is a ceramic artist from Virginia. Throughout her career as a teacher, an author, and handbuilt potter, Winnie has used clay to touch on women’s issues — both personal and global.
Winnie received her BA from the Philadelphia College of Art, and her MFA from Howard University where she later taught ceramics. She’s received numerous awards and honors, including a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lifetime Achievement in the Craft Arts Award.
When Winnie travels to Ghana she lives with a family of traditional Ewe Kente weavers. It is from this humble beginning that African Crafts Travel eventually developed. Since 1980 she has been considered a steward for traditional pot makers and their work from the continent. She has given workshops on their history and building techniques throughout venues in the United States, Nigeria and England.
Winnie's visit to Lawrence
At the end of 2019, we asked Winnie to be the juror for The International Orton Cone Box Show. She traveled to Lawrence, KS to judge the show and the whole Bracker family all went out to dinner after. She regaled us of stories growing up in the Alexandria – Washington, DC area as well as her journies each year to Ghana. She spoke animatedly of the women-centric pottery traditions there and learning authentic techniques of handbuilding the large forms common in the region.