Donna Strong, Bruce Gholson, Samantha Henneke, Judy Stevens



The following statemen written by Marla Coulthardt was read by Judy Stevens in presenting the award to Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke:

Nomination for a joint award as Montgomery County Artists of the Year

Ceramic artists Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke own Bulldog Pottery in the northeastern corner of Montgomery County.

Bruce and Samantha are contemporary potters, yet their work conveys a genuine connection to the traditional pottery that is Seagrove. Both were exposed to ceramics as undergraduates, Bruce at Oklahoma State University and Samantha at Virginia Tech. Bruce transferred to the ceramics program at the University of Georgia, Athens and completed his BFA in 1980. Samantha transferred to the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University and completed her BFA in 1995. While Bruce was working as a professional studio potter he was invited to teach at Alfred as a sabbatical replacement. He later applied to their graduate program, and in 1997 received his Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics from Alfred University.

Bruce and Samantha moved to Seagrove in 1997 to further hone their skills by working with the congenial collective of artisans here. In 2000, they found just the right spot for their own studio and shop. It is just off US220-A practically under the big blue county water tower.

Their work has become known as an eclectic mix of form, imagery, texture, and pattern. Bruce and Samantha share a love of nature, pottery, good design, and an intense interest in glazes. Their ideas have evolved from working with ceramic material and observing the interplay between glaze, clay and fire. Pieces reflect imagery evocative of memories and interests that have resonated in their lives. Although they collaborate on many pieces, their styles are different, a fact that is immediately obvious when you visit their shop.

Bruce and Samantha operate their shop full time and still manage to show and sell their work at many very special venues. Just this year, their finely crafted studio art pieces have been presented at the following:

  1. 11th Catawba Valley Pottery Festival in Hickory

  2. GEN X: Post-Boomers and the New South in Mobile, Alabama

  3. Rosedale Plantation in Charlotte

  4. Carolina Jamboree at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh

  5. Cedar Creek Gallery's National Teaport Show VII in Creedmoor, N.C.

  6. Featured artists at AKAR Design Gallery, Iowa City, Iowa

  7. Potters' Market Invitational at the Mint Museum in Charlotte

  8. 38th Fine Craft & Design Show, State Fairgrounds in Raleigh

  9. Greenhill Art Center's Winter Show at Center City Park in Greensboro

  10. Carolina Designer Craftsman in Raleigh

  11. Southern Heritage Pottery & Folk Art Show in Colfax, N.C.

  12. Nature Art Gallery at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh

This couple creates some of the most unique and imaginative ceramic art available in our state. The represent our county in an exemplary manner in their travels to shows and festivals and for all of the above mentioned reasons, each in his and her own right deserve the honor of being named Montgomery County Artist of the Year. Yet, because they are a team, our recommendation is that they be awarded this tribute as a team.