Robert C. Turner - American Ceramic Artist

Upcoming Exhibition

Robert Chapman Turner: Artist, Teacher, Explorer

May 31 - September 7, 2024, Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center

Robert Chapman Turner

Internationally acclaimed artist and
professor of ceramic art

A Fellow of the American Craft Council and recipient of its highest honor, the Gold Medal, Turner was also a member of the International Academy of Ceramics. Throughout his 60-year career as a ceramic artist, Turner received numerous awards for his work, and participated in a number of group and solo exhibitions, both in the United States and abroad.

His work is found in the permanent collections at museums in Japan and New Zealand, as well as The Smithsonian, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and numerous other private and public collections.

Recipient of the State University of New York Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1973, Turner was also a past president and honorary member of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA).

In addition to teaching at Alfred University's School of Art & Design, Turner started the ceramic program at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, and also taught as a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin. He taught summer sessions at Anderson Ranch in Aspen, CO, and the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, and served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, ME.

A lifelong member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Turner's beliefs had a profound effect on his life. Turner wrote, "What part, if any, can and should the art world play in revitalizing people of a perhaps degenerative culture, a culture in which people seem to be morally soft, often, and unaware of their actions, insensitive to the moral religious values in situations. Have not art and those people who know its value more to say than they have said, not only to make art a more vital and integral part of community life, but to minister to the spiritual needs in the broadest sense of the term?"

Robert Turner — Shaping Silence, A Life in Clay, which contains essays by Marsha Miro, an art critic at the Detroit Free Press for 21 years, and Tony Hepburn, a colleague of Turner's at Alfred University before becoming head of ceramics at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, with a forward by Janet Koplos, senior editor at "Art in America," was published in 2003 by Kodansha International, Ltd. (Tokyo).



Click image to view article PDF (larger files will take a moment to load).

Alfred Teaches Ceramics, 1900-1996

Published by the Museum of Ceramic Art at Alfred.

Robert Turner

by Ward Doubet

American Ceramics magazine, Vol.9 No.4 (1991).

Featured In

Additional Resources


Smithsonian American Art Museum

Robert C. Turner papers, Archives of American Art

Robert C. Turner interview, Archives of American Art

Background images: (Top) Robert Turner in his Alfred studio, 1997/ John Wood, photographer. (Right) Robert Chapman Turner, ca. 1965 / unidentified photographer.
Source: Robert Chapman Turner papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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