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M.C. Richards, Mary Caroline Richards

Biography to Display: 

1916 Born Weiser, Idaho

1999 Died Kimberton, Pennsylvania


1937 BA Literature and Languages, Reed College, Portland, Oregon

1942 PhD English, University of California, Berkeley, California


1968 Artist-in-Residence, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada


1942-1943 Professor, English, Central Washington College of Education, Ellensburg, Washington

1945-1951 Professor, English, Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, North Carolina

1947-1948 Founder, Black Mountain Press

1961-1965 Teacher, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine

1966 Teacher, Interdisciplinary Workshop, Penland School of Crafts, Penland, North Carolina

1986 -1999 Instructor, Art, The Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality (now the University of Creation Spirituality), Holy Names College, Oakland, California


M. C. Richards’ sculptures and vessels are wheel-thrown or hand-built in stoneware, typically, although not always, in an organic, flowing style. Some pieces are raku-fired.

Richards is best known for her book, Centering, published in 1964. She is self-described as a teacher, potter, and poet. At Black Mountain College, some of her collaborators included John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Buckminster Fuller. There, Richards studied pottery with Robert Turner, her first ceramic instructor. Although she studied with Peter Voulkos for only three weeks, during a summer session at Black Mountain College in 1953, he strongly influenced her life and work. Richards was also greatly impacted by the philosopher and educator Rudolf Steiner; many of her writings and poetry are expansions of his philosophy. In Stony Point, New York, she shared a studio with Karen Karnes from 1954-1964. During this time, she also began teaching workshops in pottery and poetry at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine, where Richards met her life-long friend Paulus Berenson; he was a beginning student in one of her workshops.

"Living a Making: Source in the Literary Work of M.C. Richards" by poet Julia Connor is at


Bibliography to Display: 

Kane-Lewis Productions. M.C. Richards: The Fire Within (film).

 Richards, M.C., trans. The Theatre and Its Double, Artaud Antonin. New York, NY: Grove Press, 1958.

___________. Before the Beginning, Berkeley, CA:  Tangram Press, 1995.

___________.  Centering In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1964.

___________. The Crossing Point: Selected Talks and Writing. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973.

___________. Imagine Inventing Yellow: New and Selected Poems, Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1991.

___________. Opening Our Moral Eye: Essays, Talks and Poems Embracing

Creativity & Community, Aurora, CO: Lindesfarne Press, 1996.

___________. The Public School and the Education of the Whole Person, NY: United Church Board of Homeland Ministry, 1980.

___________. Toward Wholeness: Rudolf Steiner Education in America. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1980.

Williams, Gerry. “Toward M. C.: An Extended Interview with M. C. Richards.” The Studio Potter 14, no. 1(December 1985).



Typical Marks
Date: 1986-1996
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Hand-Built, Thrown
Surface Technique: Carved
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified April 3, 2023.