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Susan Peterson, Susan Harnly Peterson

Biography to Display: 

Born 1925 McPherson, Kansas

Died 2009 Scottsdale, Arizona


1946 BA Mills College, Oakland, California

1950 MFA New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University, Alfred, New York


Studio Potter

Built five ceramic departments:

Wichita Art Association School, Wichita, Kansas

1952-1955Chouinard Art Institute, Los Angeles, California

1955-1979University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

1956-1985 Idyllwild School of Music and Art (ISOMAT) (University of California Summer Campus), San Jacinto Mountains, California

—1994Hunter College, City University, New York, New York



Susan Peterson is known for high fire reduction stoneware functional wares made of natural clays with engobe surface decoration and for her experimentation with coper oxide blue and green glazes.

Peterson had a lifelong relationship with the pueblo potters in New Mexico with special relationships with Lucy Lewis at Acoma Pueblo and Maria Martinez and her family of San Ildefonso Pueblo. In 1965, Peterson’s idea for a Native American ceramic program taught by the potters of San Ildefonso Pueblo and other Native American potters started at the Idyllwild School of Music and Art (ISOMAT). To mark the first year of this program lead by Maria Martinez and her family, a joint exhibition of the works of Peterson and Maria Martinez took place at California Museum of Science and Industry.

Numbered among Peterson’s students are John Mason and David Benge. In addition to teaching, Peterson initiated many innovative programs to support local potters including the Clayworks Studio Workshop (New York City), and the Appalachian Center for Crafts.

An oral history interview with Susan Peterson conducted by Paul J. Smith on March 1, 2004 for the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America can be accessed here.


Public Collections to Display: 

Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York


Bibliography to Display: 

Held, Peter. “Remembering Susan Peterson.” Studio Potter 37.

Link, Sarah and Leopold Foulem. Edges: in Thought, in History, in Clay: 4th International Ceramics Symposium. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Ontario Clay and Glass Association, 1987.

Women in Clay: the Ongoing Tradition. Ames, Iowa: Octagon Center for the Arts, 1984

Peterson, Susan. Working With Clay. New York, NY: Prentice Hall, 1998.

_____________. Contemporary Ceramics. New York, NY: Watson-Guptill, 2000.

_____________. Pottery of American Indian Women: The Legacy of Generations. New York, NY: Abbeville Press, 1997.

_____________. The Living Tradition of Maria Martinez. New York, NY: Kodansha USA, 1992.

_____________. Smashing Glazes. Madison, WI: Krause Publications, 2001.

_____________. The Craft and Art of Clay. London, England: Calmann & King LTD, 2000.

 Susan Harnly Peterson Ceramic Research Archives are in the Arizona State University Archive



Typical Marks
ca 1955
Date: 1949-1950
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
The Forrest L. Merrill Collection, Dane Cloutier Archives
Date: ca 1955
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Thrown
Surface Technique: Glaze, Wax Resist
E. John Bullard Collection
E. John Bullard Collection

Citation: "The Marks Project." Last modified July 22, 2023.