Dean Schwarz

Dean Schwarz was born in 1938 in Cedar Rapids, IA. He graduated from Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa) in 1960, and then earned his MA in art from the same institution in 1961. After serving in the U.S. Navy during the 1960s, Dean visited several ceramics studios, notably those of Shoji Hamada in Japan and Marguerite Wildenhain at Pond Farm in Guerneville, CA. He began studying with Wildenhain in 1964, frequently attending her summer Pond Farm workshops until her retirement. Schwarz served as Wildenhain's teaching associate. In 1968, he studied with William Daley at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, ME. Schwarz taught art at Luther College from 1964 to 1986. During that time he developed the ceramics program and served for several years as chair of the department. He founded South Bear School, a summer arts school devoted to pottery, painting, and poetry. Wildenhain was a frequent visitor to the school. In 1971, he received a Fulbright Fellowship to study and teach ceramics in South Korea. He traveled widely doing research and led several study abroad trips with Luther students to Panama to study pre-Columbian ceramics in the early 1970s. More recently, Dean has traveled frequently to Germany, studying the Bauhaus and its influence on Wildenhain. In the late 1970s, Dean and his family established the South Bear Press which has published a number of art-related books. Most of these texts focus on Wildenhain, including Dean’s 770-page anthology on the history and legacy of the German pottery tradition, Marguerite and the Bauhaus: An Eyewitness Anthology. Several are listed in the Reference section at the end of this essay. Schwarz developed his ceramics style after becoming an independent potter. After injuring his back, he began collaborating with his son, Gunnar. Gunnar would throw most of the pots (frequently very large vessels), while Schwarz could design and decorate the ceramic surfaces. Their collaboration was recognized in 2007 with an exhibit entitled Dean and Gunnar Schwarz: Pottery Form and Inherent Expression, at the University of Northern Iowa galleries.
Source of Biography; Schwarz, Dean. Marguerite Wildenhain: A Diary to Franz. Decorah, IA: South Bear Press, 2004; Marguerite Wildenhain and the Bauhaus: an Eyewitness Anthology. Comp. Dean Schwarz. Decorah, IA: South Bear Press, 2007; Ripples: Marguerite Wildenhain and her Pond Farm Students. Curated by Billie Sessions. San Bernardino, CA: California State University, 2002; Pond Farm Collection: Works of Art Created by Students Who Studied with Marguerite Wildenhain at her Pond Farm Studio. Text by Jane Kemp. Decorah, IA: Luther College, 2003