FRED JOHNSTON SEAGROVE NC POTTERY JUG
Fred learned to make pots in the Seagrove area in the 1980â€™s. Working odd jobs around the different potteries, Fred worked for Mark Hewitt, Ben Owen and Dover Pottery. This experience was the catalyst for Fredâ€™s commitment and passion to the pottery vernacular, which turned into an adventure and education. After attending Montgomery Community College, Fred left Seagrove in 1989 to attend Alfred University where he received a BFA in Ceramics. Upon graduation he was awarded a full scholarship for a MFA at Penn State. Fredâ€™s origins in clay are rooted in the southern folk pottery traditions of North Carolina. Growing up in the rural south has given him access to its colorful history and characters, which serve as a wellspring of ideas. Storytelling is a regional pastime consequently he questions how a pot can tell a story. Though his work draws from many cultures Greek, Korean, Chinese, Pre-Columbian, European and Mimbres, his shapes and decorations are bold, distinctive and imaginative. He has done artist-in-residency fellowships at Arrowmont School of Arts in Tennessee, the Sanbao Ceramic Institute in China and ArtLink in Estonia. In 1997 Fred and his wife Carol Gentithes established Johnston & Gentithes Art Pottery in Seagrove, NC where they presently make and sell their work. His work is exhibited globally, can be found in the Mint Museum permanent collection and is published in many periodicals and books.
The first immigrant potters, mostly English and Germans, arrived in the latter half of the 18th century. Most came to our state from Pennsylvania and Virginia. Though information on these early immigrant potters is sketchy, they probably settled first in the areas closest to the Great Wagon Road, which ran from Pennsylvania to Georgia, and then migrated from there to the Seagrove area. Potters arriving in the Seagrove area in the 1700s were quick to realize the value of the local clay. They first made redware, some plain and some decorated, using clay that fired to a reddish orange color. By sometime in the first half of the 19th century, Seagrove area potters had switched predominantly to making the higher fired salt glazed stoneware
The building of the old Plank Road in the mid 19th century, and later the emerging railroad system, gave potters access to even wider markets and helped to establish Seagroves reputation as a pottery town. These pioneer farmer-potters forged new styles based on their skills and artistic visions, their surrounding natural resources, and the needs of their growing community. Today these early Seagrove area pots are gaining international attention as their value changes from that of utilitarian object to cultural treasure.