Ceramics professor at AACC shows life’s work

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Ceramics professor at AACC shows life’s work

Professor Rick Malmgren shares his life’s work at Maryland Hall in Annapolis.

Professor Rick Malmgren shares his life’s work at Maryland Hall in Annapolis.

Photo by Brad Dress

Professor Rick Malmgren shares his life’s work at Maryland Hall in Annapolis.

Photo by Brad Dress

Photo by Brad Dress

Professor Rick Malmgren shares his life’s work at Maryland Hall in Annapolis.

Brad Dress, Associate Editor

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An AACC ceramics professor is displaying his work at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts until Feb. 25.

Rick Malmgren, the coordinator of ceramics and a professor of visual arts, began a gallery residence at the hall on Jan. 9. His exhibit takes a look at his life as a potter and ceramic artist through a display of his life’s work.

At a reception on Jan. 12, Maryland first lady Yumi Hogan bought two crystal-glazed vases for the governor’s mansion, with a firm place in mind for them. AACC President Dawn Lindsay also attended the reception.

Dr. Suzanne Spoor, an English professor at AACC, said she took classes under Malmgren for four years.
“It’s an unusual thing to find someone who is such a great artist and also a great teacher,” Spoor said.

Malmgren has worked with pottery for more than 40 years. One of his ceramic platters is on display at the American Museum of Ceramic Art in California. Another is in a museum in San Francisco.

“I knew I was hooked the first time I smacked a lump of clay to the wheel head to make it stick,” Malmgren wrote in a brochure that he handed out at Maryland Hall, titled, “My Romance with Earth and Fire.” “Being able to spend a life working with this extraordinarily ordinary material has been a gift beyond all imagination.”

Malmgren said he made his first piece, a small turtle, when he was very young. His mother had been a serious potter since he was 10, but Malmgren said he refrained from the art because he wanted to avoid anything his mom would do.

Right after college, with a pre-med degree, Malmgren went to work at a psychiatric hospital in Boston. Because of the stress of the job, and a “recalled love of clay” the summer before, he started taking night classes for pottery, he recalled.

The summer after his junior year in college, in 1971, Malmgren took pottery classes in Washington but didn’t go further.

Malmgren quit his job in 1973 to become a potter’s apprentice in New Hampshire.

In 1975, Malmgren started his own studio and became a full-time potter, selling his work to galleries for a living. In his brochure, Malmgren wrote that he “worked from 8 in the morning to 10 at night, day after day, week after week.”

Not until 1990, when he was 39, did he accept a part-time teaching job at St. John’s College
The following year, Malmgren accepted a part-time teaching job at AACC. He has been a full-time faculty member at the college since 2001.

“My primary interest is in teaching,” Malmgren said in an interview. “The most notable [accomplishment] has been teaching here [at AACC]. The rest of it … helps me do a good job teaching.”
Rebekah Savice, one of Malmgren’s students, said she was greatly influenced by his work and will major in ceramics at a four-year college.

“He’s one of my favorite people and by far my favorite professor at AACC,” Savice said. “He’s definitely one of the biggest mentors and influential people in my life.”

The ceramics professor uses photographs of his work—published in ceramics textbooks—to teach the art to students. Malmgren plans to continue teaching at AACC.

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