My name is Charles Cheek. I am an archaeologist and potter. My main areas of professional interest are the Mayan culture of Mesoamerica and urban historical archaeology. I had a long-term interest in pottery as an archaeologist. What can pottery tell us about the past and the people that used and made the pottery? How did they make the often gorgeous forms and decoration? Then I team-taught a class on archaeology and ceramics with a ceramics instructor at a small university and became interested in making pottery. I began taking classes in 1980 and have been making stoneware ever since. I started my own studio in 2014 upon retirement.
I like making pottery because discovering shapes in the raw clay gives me the same excitement that making discoveries in archaeology does. Archaeologists work with all the bits and pieces disordered by past human behaviors and by natural forces acting on the artifacts after discard. During analysis we take the results of the excavation and reorder them. We recreate the connections among the artifacts found in the earth and between them and the people who lived in the past. Potters create connections between form and decoration with the help of the wheel, clay, slips, glazes, and the fire. The creating and the recreating are satisfying both intellectually and aesthetically, and I like the feeling that I am creating something from the earth with my own hands.
I am retired from my day job of 30 years with a historic preservation firm. I live in Hume, VA with my wife and two American Pit Bull Terriers and am a member of the Northern Virginia Handcrafters Guild.
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