Up in her quiet attic studio, Fran Gross thinks of the faraway places she has visited while spinning her potter’s wheel and creating beautiful works from clay. Fran is a functional potter who lives and works in Cambridge, and she is Main Street Gallery’s featured artist for September and October. She has named her exhibit “Inspirations” because she says her work is inspired by her extensive travel and the cultures and natural beauty she encounters while seeing the world.
“I love to travel and experience different cultures and do quite a lot of it. I particularly love experiencing the natural world in all its glory,” says the artist, who also loves to photograph the many sights she sees.
Since her show coincides with the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit, “Water/Ways” which will come to Cambridge this fall, Fran emphasizes that making wheel formed pottery is intimately bound to and dependent on water. As anyone who has ever watched a potter at work knows, water is essential to making clay vessels.
“I have a real affinity for water,” Fran explains. “Most of my travel has been on ships and boats of various sizes. I am a potter. I work with clay and minerals. The culture and nature I see around the world both influence my use of shapes and colors for my work.”
Born and raised in Western Maryland, Fran studied nursing and worked as a nurse for a number of years in both Maryland and New York. Settling with her husband, Steve, on Long Island, she left nursing to raise three sons, start a cruise travel agency and manage her husband’s CPA office. She and Steve always enjoyed collecting pottery from all over the world, but it wasn’t until she moved to Cambridge in 2004 that she started making pottery herself.
Noted potter Karen Bearman was her first teacher at the Dorchester Center for the Arts. Encouraged by her success in Karen’s classes, Fran set up her own studio in her attic and began to show and sell her mid-fire stoneware pieces. She says she loves making pieces that are not only functional but beautiful, too. Fran has continued to learn, studying with professional artists such as Nan Rothwell, Linda Christiansen and Ronan Kyle Peterson and attending workshops and symposia in many venues on the east coast. In addition to the Main Street Gallery, Fran has shown her work at Race Street Gallery, The Dorchester Center for the Arts, Blue Awning Shop, and the Art Institute and Gallery in Salisbury.
“Inspirations” runs through Sunday, October 27. Join Fran for two artists receptions on second Saturdays, September 14 and October 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. at Main Street Gallery on 518 Poplar Street in Cambridge, directly across from Jimmie and Sooks. Fran will be demonstrating on the potter’s wheel at the September 14 reception. Both receptions are free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call 410-330-4659 or www.mainstgallery.org.
Main Street Gallery is Cambridge’s only artist-owned and run cooperative and is currently reviewing work from prospective members.