Saint John’s Pottery

Saint John’s Pottery

In the thirty years since its inception the Saint John’s Pottery Studio has evolved as a dynamic collaboration between Saint John’s University and Artist in Residence, Richard Bresnahan.  The Pottery Studio embodies the Benedictine values of community, hospitality and self-sufficiency as well as the University’s commitment to the integration of art and life; the preservation of the environment; the linkage between work and worship; and the celebration of diverse cultures.


The Pottery Studio engages students, apprentices and visiting artists in the work of artistic creation, discipline, and research and preparation of natural materials.  All of these experiences are framed by questions of what it means to envision and create a sustainable lived system.


Visitors are welcome in the studio during open hours to purchase ceramics and for guided tours.  Studio tours walk guests through the process of clay and glaze development, preparation and firing of the Johanna Kiln, and exploration of the ethical and aesthetic choices that support the finished ceramics.  While the cups, bowls or other work produced in the studio are art in their own right, they also embody a vision for a more whole world.


Visiting The Pottery:                                                                                                                                    Saint John’s Pottery is open Monday through Friday from 1:15 PM CST to 4:30 PM CST

It is open on Saturday by special arrangement. Closed Sunday

The Pottery Studio is located in the fieldstone basement of Saint Joseph Hall, adjacent to the Saint John’s Art Center.


Saint John’s Pottery  P.O. Box 6377; Collegeville, MN 56321-6377  (320) 363-2930


About the Pottery

The Mission

The Pottery Program embodies, by demonstration and practical experience, the integration of aesthetic, scientific, humanistic, and moral approaches to sustainable living in relation to nature.

The Pottery Program occupies not only a physical space on the University grounds, but also an intellectual and spiritual space; the Pottery Program embodies the University’s commitment to the integration of art and life, the preservation of the environment, the linkage of work and worship, and the celebration of diverse cultures.


Ancient Pacific Rim methods of pottery are combined with available local resources and attention to process, anchoring us in a vision of sustainability. The Pottery Program enriches the environment and materials that make creation possible. It seeks ways to maintain and develop these things so that the creative process may speak to and span across generations.

The Pottery Studio is located in the lowest level of Saint Joseph Hall on the western edge of the campus, adjacent to the Saint John’s Art Center.

Artistic Development

Through the lens of community and generational learning, the Pottery Studio uses hands on experience to develop skills and techniques that support artistic work and sustainable material use. In conversation and through the integrated way these skills are acted out, the Pottery Studio teaches through the development of a deliberate and compassionate lived system.


Richard Bresnahan, Artist in Residence

Excerpts from A Passion for Pottery
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

Admirers of the pottery crafted by Richard Bresnahan can’t seem to agree on its origins.


Bresnahan, a 1976 graduate of Saint John’s University who has served as director of Saint John’s Pottery Program since 1980, is definitely American: He was born in Casselton, N.D. and attended Saint John’s Preparatory School.


But he spent his senior year in college and three years after that in Japan as an apprentice with the Nakazato family, who have crafted pottery for 13 generations and are a Japanese “national living treasure family.”

“[Americans] sometimes say, ‘Richard makes Japanese-style pottery,’ and then the Japanese who come here say, ‘Boy, Richard, you sure make American-style pottery,'” Bresnahan admits.    What does the artist himself think? “I say it’s Minnesota pottery,” he says.


Bresnahan praises college faculty, particularly Sister Johanna Becker, OSB, of Saint Benedict’s, who made the connections for his Japanese apprenticeship.


“There are these moments [at small colleges] when a university teacher can almost [be] like a wing covering a young bird,” Bresnahan says. But when he returned in 1979, Bresnahan spread his own wings. Saint John’s agreed to help him set up a totally indigenous pottery studio with the agreement that sales of the work would sustain the studio after the first two years.


Bresnahan and his wife, Colette, live with their son and two daughters in Avon, Minnesota. He credits his wife, an accomplished head nurse, as indispensable in his life and work.


“I’ve gotten tremendous accolades as an artist,” he says. “But if you don’t have a great partner to walk through life with, you’re miserable.”

Rest assured that Richard Bresnahan is far from miserable.

Related Links   Richard Bresnahan’s Vita                                                                                           Saint John’s Pottery;   P.O. Box 6377;          Collegeville, MN 56321-6377       (320) 363-2930

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