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Board Member Biographies

Deborah Britt

I am a studio potter, originally from Missouri.  I was educated at the University of Missouri (BSBA Marketing),  Lindenwood University (MBA) and Webster University (BFA).   I moved to Wyoming in 2003 where I have been active in my local community in founding a clay organization, Potters of the Wind Rivers (POWR) and have served as it’s president since it’s inception in 2010. The goal of this organization is share ideas, educate the public on the ceramic arts, further artist expertise by organizing workshops with outside artists, critiques, organizing exhibits, etc. I am also a roster artist for the Wyoming Arts Council, have served on the Board of the Lander Art Center and have exhibited my work throughout Wyoming.  I recently moved from Wyoming to Oregon.  I am maintaining my Wyoming studio, but am currently making work in Oregon with “pared down” equipment.  I am looking to my surroundings on the beautiful Oregon Coast for inspiration as well as honing my hand building skills!

As a member of ICAN, formerly Potters Council, for the last several years I have enjoyed many of the benefits provided, including participating in PC’s juried show at NCECA, the calendar, and the artist profile, among others. I believe the organization is an amazing resource that so many artists appreciate and benefit from. ICAN has contributed in a great way to my career as a studio artist. If you would like to see more of my work, please feel free to check out my website: www.deborahbrittpottery.com

Rob Lawarre

Lawarre was born in February 1972 in Lima, Ohio and moved to Titusville, Florida at age 13. At age 14 he started working in his family’s aerospace business as a machinist’s apprentice and began working on cars. In the early 1990’s his family sold the business and started a stockcar race team; a continuation of a family tradition that started back in the 1960’s with a dirt sprint car and an Indy team. Working for this NASCAR team would allow Robert to develop mechanical and fabrication skills, which he used to create his unique texture tools from discarded automobile components, and was an essential part of developing Lawarre’s visual language. References to automotive industry often appear on his work in the form of riveting, nuts and bolts, casting marks and upholstery stitching.

Lawarre started working in clay in 1990 but did not realize his attachment to the clay medium until 1997 as he completed his AA degree at Valencia Community College under the direction of Michael Galletta. His education continued at the University of Central Florida, where he earned a BFA in Ceramics under Professors Robert Reedy and Hadi Abbas. Lawarre’s true education started as he began work as a “Teaching Artist” in summer camps and public schools in central Florida. It was this interaction with kids that inspired the youthful mindset of his work. Playful exploration of materials, techniques, and forms is at the core of what he does. Lawarre’s  approach to everything art related can be summed up as having “Serious fun”.

Robert’s work has been displayed at galleries and museums nationally and internationally, totaling more than 130 shows in the last 9 years. His international exposure, including publications, extends through the USA, Canada, China, Korea, Taiwan, Austria, Croatia, Italy, France, Germany, Slovenia, and England. He has earned 33 national and international awards since 2006.

Shamai Gibsh is a dedicated ceramic artist and teacher living in Israel as well as in the US. He exhibits and teaches workshops all over the world. He has a big network of ceramic artist friends and looks forward to extending that network with the ICAN membership. Gibsh grew up in Israel, and educated as an engineer and ceramic artist in the USA (summers at the Harvard University Ceramic Studio) and Israel. He is a member of the IAC (International Academy of Ceramics), and of the Israeli Ceramics Association. Gibsh owns a ceramic studio in Jaffa, Israel and is a partner in the ceramic art gallery cooperative called “8 in Jaffa.” He gives multiple workshops on his unique alternative firing techniques all over the world and is also teaching at the Benyamini Contemporary Ceramic Center in Tel-Aviv, Israel. He participates in many residencies and exhibitions, and his art can be found in collections of multiple museums and private collections in Asia, Europe, and the US. His work has been featured in a variety of ceramic magazines, books and publications

Leah Gary
As an ICAN Advisory Board member I can offer a rich skill set in the ceramic arts and in governance of an organization. I have been involved and in love with clay for more than 30 years. I am a maker, collector and student of ceramic arts and have found ICAN to be a great resource as I expand my knowledge and evolve as an artist. In addition to my work in clay my professional career spanned 40 years in the non-profit sector in healthcare and philanthropy. Most recently, I was the president and CEO of a private foundation. As a result of this experience I have a deep knowledge of organizational management and board governance. I currently serve as board chair for an arts organization in Cleveland, Ohio, dedicated to public art and civic place making to enhance the lives of all in my community. I also sit on the local public university foundation board and advocate for strong arts programs for our students. This combination of a love for ceramics arts and expert knowledge of board and nonprofits makes me uniquely qualified to support the mission and vision of ICAN and to serve the best interests of it membership. Thank you for offing me this opportunity to be a part of the fine work of the ICAN.

Nancy Utterback
I have had a long career as a studio potter, educator, and leader in community based ceramics programs. I have been an advocate for studio and recreational potters and ceramic students of all levels. I have significant experience working with organizations, many of which share the core values and goals of ICAN. As an educator in community based clay programs I have fostered the growth of individuals working in clay at both amateur and professional levels. I continue to strive for best practices within the field with a particular focus on sound environmental practices. I have conducted research on a variety of subjects and have been published in Ceramics Monthly and The Studio Potter. I have a strong exhibition history, have served as a juror for shows, and organized and conducted regional, national, and international workshops. I am inspired by the knowledge and creativity of fellow artists and it would be my pleasure to further support our community through serving ICAN members.


Laura Korch Bailey (MFA candidate at Arizona State University, Graduating 2019)

Please consider me for the ICAN Advisory Board Student Position. If offered, the position would greatly increase my awareness and understanding of the ceramic community across the world. In my past, I have been on the board of Alderman for the town of Carrboro, North Carolina. Through that experience, I have come to understand the value and rewards of working as a group in a community. My interest in becoming a board member is prompted by the opportunity to network and meet new people, as well as develop professionally while continuing my rigorous education in graduate school. I look forward to learning more about my role, and what I can give to the advisory board.