The Clay Community: Natchez artist Conner Burns hosting reunion at pottery studio

Published 10:15 pm Friday, August 25, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Twenty years ago, Conner Burns started Burns Pottery at 209 Franklin St., Natchez, and although he is no longer leading the studio, and it has changed names, it is still operating and serving the community.

He plans a reunion to celebrate the clay community and to gather those together who were involved in the studio over the years.

You are invited to celebrate at Conner Burns Studio, 209-B Franklin St., on Oct. 8 from 2 to 4 p.m. if you were ever involved in any way (or ever wanted to be). If you were a student, member, patron, participant, bystander, supporter or just want to come join us, you are invited.

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There will be food, art, old pictures and fun times.

For five years, Burns started and operated the studio, which changed names to from Burns Pottery to Natchez Clay under his leadership. It held a gallery, adult classes, kids clay camps, teen artist weeks, workshops with artist from all over the US, shared studio space and private studio space.

The studio grew and many clay artists were a part of the studio during this time; many came from afar to learn and many starting locally.

The studio continued to change. Burns maintained his personal studio, but the public (teaching) studio moved physical location, direction and leadership as Donna Jones and Jaque Stahlman took over the studio and moved it to Clifton Avenue.

After about five years there, it changed leadership again when Patricia Gaude Huffines and Sarah Luck took over direction of the facility. The studio’s name changed also, to Natchez Clay Studios and Natchez Pottery Studios.

Yet again, there was change as the Mississippi School of Folk Arts and Sarah Freeman took over leadership of the studio. This time it stayed at Clifton for a time, then moved back to Franklin Street, back to Conner’s place, and eventually settled at 4 E. Franklin St., where it currently resides under the Mississippi School of Folk Arts name and direction.

Throughout the various moves and leadership changes, the studio consistently provided education, space and resources for the clay community. It has been a constant physical presence for the clay community and the Natchez community.

For 20 years, the clay community of Natchez has had a place to call home, to learn new skills, to work, to gather and to show the community the clay world. The clay community of Natchez has also run the Empty Bowls Benefit for the Stewpot, a benefit that raises significant funds for the Natchez Stewpot.

Please join Conner, Donna, Jaque, Patricia, Sarah Luck and Sarah Freeman as they gather everyone together for this reunion to celebrate the last 20 years, as well as to look forward to the next 20 years of clay in Natchez and beyond. Local and out of town clay artists will be present as well as those that supported the studio over the years.

Burns is a studio artist in downtown Natchez. Each of the others that were in leadership of the clay studio are also clay artists living in Natchez, Vidalia, Lake St John and Folsom. Each is still involved in the Empty Bowls fundraiser and is looking forward to the reunion with those from the past and present studio.

Conner Burns Studio is located at 209-B Franklin Street in downtown Natchez and is open by appointment.

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