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Anderson University Receives Art by Renowned Potters

September 30, 2021
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Billy and Kay Rhodes donated to Anderson University a pottery set made by renowned pottery artists Winton and Rosa Eugene. Pictured from left are Vice President for Diversity, Inclusion and Community Dr. James Noble, Kay Rhodes, and Senior Vice President for Development and Presidential Affairs Wayne Landrith.

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William K. (Billy) and Karen (Kay) Rhodes donated to Anderson University a pottery set made by Winton and Rosa Eugene, potters from Cowpens, South Carolina. The beautifully carved bowl and pitcher is more than beautiful art, it’s a created work with a powerful story to tell.

When Kay first saw the pottery at the Anderson Arts Center, a bowl and pitcher beautifully glazed with intricate relief carvings of men and women of the rural South, she was captivated and moved to purchase it. 

“Pottery has always been one of my favorite types of art,” Kay said. “There was something about the absolute beauty of the profile of the people who are portrayed in this, plus it told a great story. I can imagine these people on their front porch; their personalities came out that strongly for me. Then, add to that the fact that it was done on such a gorgeous piece of pottery by this man who had humble beginnings—such a talented artist—and this is how he decides to express himself. It’s just phenomenal.”

“This piece speaks of the beauty of diversity, so having this piece here helps us to understand that we need to focus on other areas where diversity is important as well. When we think of the creators, inventors and the voice behind why they create, it helps to solidify the importance of all things beautiful and all things coming together,” said Dr. James Noble, Vice President for Diversity, Inclusion and Community at Anderson University. 

Over the years, Billy and Kay enjoyed the bowl and pitcher’s presence in their home. Then a pivotal moment happened when Kay took a class through Anderson University’s Lifelong Learning Institute where they learned about Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery in the South and went on to guide many enslaved African Americans to freedom via the Underground Railroad just prior to the Civil War. Kay recalls, “We watched the movie ‘Harriet,’ and Dr. Noble facilitated a discussion about the movie. That’s where the idea started that made me connect these two things.” Billy and Kay were moved by that experience to donate the bowl and pitcher in honor of Dr. Noble.

The pottery of Winton and Rosa Eugene has been shown internationally, has been featured on South Carolina Educational Television and other media outlets, and publications that include American Craft Magazine. Winton is a self-taught potter who owes his talents to God. In the early 80s, he became interested in the medium of pottery as he watched his children work with clay for school projects. Rosa noticed her husband’s interest in pottery grow and, before long, they became a creative duo and built a studio where they produce pitchers, bowls and vases in styles that range from traditional to abstract. The focal point of many of their pieces is an intricate relief carving depicting a diversity of people in the rural South with dignity and pride, and pieces depicting nature and people’s relationship with the environment. At their studio, Winton and Rosa do it all—designing, forming, carving, glazing and firing each piece of pottery.

Their work has been seen as far away as Germany and China and is featured in museums and galleries across the South, and is also in many private collections. 

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