BiographyGwen Heffner graduated from Luther College in 1974 with a BA degree in art concentrating on printmaking and ceramics. After working as a production potter in Minneapolis for one year, she earned an MFA in Ceramics from the University of Louisville. Heffner studied at the South Bear School managed by Dean Schwarz for two summers. In addition, she has attended numerous workshops on ceramics production, bead-making, stone-carving, and black smithing.
Heffner has been an instructor of ceramics at the John C. Campbell Folkschool starting in 1986 and at the Arrowmont School of Carts in 1989. She also taught at the Prestonburg Community College in Kentucky from 1981-84. She was an artist in the schools with the Kentucky Arts Council from 1979-1982 where she had year-long residencies setting up a studio in schools, teaching students and community classes for adults, and coordinating a visiting artist series with faculty and staff.
Since 1981, Heffner has been a studio potter specializing in porcelain. She owned the Contemporary Artifacts Gallery in Berea, KY for thirteen years. After selling the gallery, she began working at the Kentucky Artisan Center as an information specialist and resource coordinator.
Heffner’s works have been exhibited in many galleries and museums. Her work has been featured in publications including books (Contemporary Porcelain by Peter Lane, 1995) and magazines. She is an active member of various organizations such as the American Craft Council the Kentucky Art and Craft Foundation and the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen. Heffner serves as juror/consultants to galleries and museums and works as a graphic designer.
In her artist statement from 1996, Heffner says of her interest in porcelain: “The whiteness of porcelain provides me with a three-dimensional canvas which I can carve, alter, change its color, make translucent and smooth like beach rocks, or leave soft and fragile as egg shells.”
The Petal Bowl which Heffner donated to the Fine Arts Collection was oxidation fired porcelain, cone 9. It has a High Feldspathic matte white glaze and is wheel-thrown and altered. A similar Petal Vase was donated to the college by Heffner at an earlier date.
Source of Biography“Gwen Heffner.” Ceramics Monthly. 42:2 (February 1994), 36;
“Gwen Heffner.” Studio Potter. 1987;
“Potter’s Porcelains Will Bowl You Over.” Lexington Herald Leader, May 1994;