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Larkin Creates Pottery Magic for Governor’s Arts Awards

Arkansas Arts Council - Thursday, March 05, 2020


The magic of pottery is it can be beautiful and useful simultaneously, said Fletcher Larkin, the artist who created this year’s Governor’s Arts Awards.

“The pots I make are not flashy. They reveal themselves over time – that’s probably my personality in that,” Larkin said. “Part of the aesthetics is the function of my work.”

Fletcher LarkinInside his garage studio in Little Rock on a recent Wednesday, Larkin showed off shelves of mugs he’s been working on. Each mug is special, and once fired, each mug will look slightly different. Larkin enjoys creating mugs because they are one of a kind, useful and something people love.

“It’s a very simple shape to make, but you can get a lot of personality into them,” Larkin said. “People get attached to their mugs – it’s a refuge. It gets people away from themselves for a little bit. Anything can be mysterious, if you emerge yourself into it.”

He rarely does commission work, but Larkin jumped at the chance to create the awards for the Governor’s Arts Awards. He used a classical design to pull the clay into a vase-like shape, he said.

“To know that the Arkansas Arts Council was paying attention to me and that they saw what I was doing – there’s validation in that,” Larkin said.

Larkin’s stoneware, glazed in tomato red, will go to eight Governor’s Arts Awards recipients. Every year, the Arkansas Arts council seeks nominations for Arkansas’s finest artists, arts patrons, businesses sponsoring or promoting art, leaders in arts development and leaders in art education. An independent panel of arts professionals and community leaders choose the winners. The recipients will be honored during a special luncheon ceremony March 17 at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.

Larkin, 42, grew up throwing mud. His parents Jim and Barbara Larkin are potters who run Fox Pass Pottery in Hot Springs, where Larkin now sells his work. Each year, Larkin will create about 800 pieces, including mugs, bowls, vases and jugs. Once a year, he will fire 150 pots in a wood kiln. The process is an evolution of practice, discipline and experimentation. The result creates utilitarian, yet beautiful, artworks.

The work has attracted patrons looking for something unique. For example, buyers pick out mugs that fit their own personalities, he said. Larkin’s work is subtle, but over time, details start to emerge – the way the colors run together, the way the handle is formed or flattened, the double firing of a pot that creates a smooth but unusual finish.

“Sometimes you find a mug that fits you, and sometimes you learn to fit the mug,” Larkin said.

Larkin grew up in Hot Springs, where he began learning the art of pottery when he was a child barely able to stand above the pottery wheel. By the age of 12, Larkin was making mugs under the instruction of his father, Jim Larkin, the 2012 Arkansas Living Treasure.

Even then, Larkin didn’t plan to become a potter in high school. He went to college with a plan to go into graphic design, but he soon discovered he likes to work with his hands. He turned to woodworking, only to find a love for clay. Larkin graduated from East Carolina University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Fine Art that emphasized ceramics.

“Working with clay, working with pottery, is really where my interests have stayed,” Larkin said.

Larkin’s work has attracted attention statewide. His pottery was exhibited with 13 other artists at the Baum Gallery at the University of Central Arkansas earlier this year, and he teaches at the Arkansas Arts Center. Still, getting the opportunity to create awards for the Governor’s Arts Awards means a lot to him.

The Governor’s Arts Awards event draws the public’s attention to the arts and elevates the artists of Arkansas, Larkin said. “I think it’s important,” he added. “I think it brings awareness to what we have in Arkansas.”